Plan to circumvent mortgage insurance would be...

Letters to the Editor

November 05, 1998

Plan to circumvent mortgage insurance would be expensive

The Kenneth Harney column "A plan to lower outlays for mortgage insurance" (Oct. 25 in the Real Estate section) on Freddie Mac's attempt to change its charter, contained a great deal of misinformation.

Freddie Mac's proposal would have allowed this government-sponsored corporation to use self-insurance rather than third-party insurance to protect against loss on low down-payment loans. Using self-insurance would have cost the typical home buyer $500 a year more, not $324 less as Freddie Mac claims.

Consumers would pay more because they would pay a higher interest rate on their loan to compensate for lack of third-party coverage.

That higher rate would remain in effect for the life of the loan and could not be canceled, while private mortgage insurance can be canceled once the homeowner builds up enough equity.

A new federal law requires lenders to cancel private mortgage insurance at a defined point. More than 70 percent of taxpayers do not use the mortgage interest deduction, according to the Internal Revenue Service, so they would not benefit from any tax savings on a higher interest rate.

The bottom line is that a borrower with an average Freddie Mac mortgage of $112,000 would pay $15,000 more over the life of the loan under Freddie Mac's proposal.

In rejecting the proposal, Congress recognized that it would have enabled Freddie Mac to use its market power and its government subsidies to force consumers to pay more for the mortgages it chose to invest in.

Suzanne C. Hutchinson

Washington

The writer is executive vice president of the Mortgage Insurance Cos. of America.

Less than sharp distinctions between right, left brain

I enjoyed The Sun's article ("Left-brain Mids buck the current," Oct. 29) about the highly perceptual achievements (art, poetry, drama and music) of some Naval Academy midshipmen in contrast with the institution's strong focus in science and technology.

It was a reassuring look at educational tolerance in the area referred to as the "left brain/right brain dichotomy" -- analytical, linear thinking vs. creative, aggregate thinking.

An understanding of the rather separate and specialized work done by the left and right hemispheres of the brain has been known for more than a hundred years.

Nowadays, The Sun and other media often report on brain imaging techniques that help us see where brain processing for different tasks actually occurs.

The right hemisphere controls our left side, left-handedness, creativity, art and music, while the left side controls math and logic. Then there's bilateral drift. For example, language is considered left-brain processing and visual communication right, but deaf children taught sign language as infants seem to store much of this right brain visual information in left-hemisphere filing cabinets reserved for verbal language.

While my spouse and I are graphic artists, she's a righty and I'm a lefty. On the other hand, both of us lean equally to the right in math.

Actually, if you've got something to say, it doesn't matter which side of the brain it comes from.

Donald Berger

Baltimore

'Perjury trap' argument for Clinton is moot point

The article "Did Starr set a perjury trap?" (Nov. 1, Perspective) attempts to convince us that maybe President Clinton was entrapped into doing something he would not otherwise have done.

But before his January deposition, Mr. Clinton had already, on a continuing basis, committed acts that by themselves would have resulted in his immediate dismissal from the employ of any private company or public institution in the country.

Just last year, soldiers stationed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground went to jail for similar behavior.

Their commander-in-chief can't be held to a different standard.

Let the courts decide if Mr. Starr's probe was inappropriate, but the central issue here is unchanged. Everyone is equal under the law. Are we to amend this a la George Orwell to say everyone is equal, but Mr. Clinton is more equal than the rest of us?

Mary Lou Wickham

Glen Arm

Kennedy Krieger donation cannot go without thanks

I have just read the article ("Kennedy Krieger receives key gift," Oct. 28) and could not let the loving generosity of Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus go unthanked.

I worked with Baltimore Association for Retarded Citizens for several years. I feel, as Mr. Marcus obviously does, that the developmentally challenged are among the finest and most appreciative people I have ever met.

I count as one of my life's greatest blessings the opportunity I had to work with, and become friends with, some of the many who need help.

It also pleases me that Mr. Marcus has set an example, which I also hope will become an inspiration to other companies, by hiring those who have developmental disabilities.

They will not find more willing and reliable employees.

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