Raise your hand if you're anxious about the economic state of the world? Of the U.S.? Of your state? Of your county? Of your city? Of your public school district? Of your household?
Yeah, me, too. I can't attribute my continuous racing heart to that anxiety -- I've got hyperthyroidism to blame for that -- but the even more quickening pace that occurs whenever I hear of yet another huge company going under or having massive layoffs to avoid going under, that's not Super Thyroid. That's Super Fear.
I make it worse, you know, that state of anxiety. I read the trustee notices in the local newspaper every day. First, I see if the foreclosed home is in my town. If it is, I take a look at the owners to see if I might know them. Finally, I look at the amount owed. I've managed to feel real sorry for people who are losing their homes for what I consider "reasonable" amounts. It makes me feel they didn't knowingly overextend themselves by buying a house far grander than they could ever hope to afford.
Does it make me a bad person to have no pity for someone who owes more than $500,000 or $750,000 or, as I've been seeing, $1.2 million? Someone who takes out such a huge mortgage and then defaults doesn't get a kernel of compassion from me.
I have a large mortgage. By California standards, not so large, but large enough. We put down a hefty sum to buy this house, but a hefty sum had to be borrowed as well. Even with the horrible state of real estate, we'd likely get a bit more than what we paid for if we were to sell today. We stand very little real chance of defaulting because we've lived relatively within our means and haven't taken out any equity in the house.
We didn't gamble on a house far out of reach for our income. And we didn't gamble with our house, squeezing more, more, more equity out to get more, more, more material goods we couldn't afford.
Is there any point to all this? I mean, besides opening me up for criticism because I can't find it within me to pity others? I guess not. Or maybe there is. I didn't buy a house I couldn't afford. I didn't take out an adjustable mortgage that would bankrupt me when it adjusted in five years. I didn't pull money out of my house to spend on other things, increasing my debt month by month. Why don't I get rewarded for good behavior? Why do we seem to always reward bad behavior?
Oh, right, I remember. Lesson number one that I want my children to learn: life's not fair.