March 01, 2009

Another reason not to invest in city

The City Council proposal that would give foreclosed homeowners one year to vacate wins the trophy for dumbest idea of the year ("Carrying a big stick," editorial, Feb. 25).

Few, if any, defaulting owners will seek to negotiate with their bank if such a rule is passed. Why should they, if they are given a gift of one year's housing as part of a new public policy rewarding those who made unwise investments in a home they could not afford?

They could go live with friends and rent out their foreclosed home for up to a year, and not pay any real estate taxes, let the yard deteriorate and collect monthly cash. And the city solicitor would be in court all day defending against lenders' lawsuits, as such a "freebie" to foreclosed homeowners would be a "taking" of private property belonging to lenders for a public purpose, for which the Constitution and the laws of every state require compensation.

As a result, the taxpayers, those of us who pay our property taxes and have no foreclosure problems, would end up making the lenders whole.

There are many reasons not to invest in Baltimore, home of Maryland's highest property tax. Now comes another.

Shame on the City Council for even thinking about playing Santa Claus with our money.

Mike Schaefer, Baltimore

The writer is a retired attorney and a property manager.

Restructure taxes on property instead

I am getting frustrated by the notion of a foreclosure crisis. Yes, the banks were wrong to lend people money who could not afford to pay it back, but that does not take personal responsibility out of the equation ("Slowing evictions," Feb. 25). And anyone who signed mortgage papers he or she did not understand was simply acting irresponsibly.

If the City Council really wants to make a grand gesture about how concerned it is about people having trouble paying their mortgages, how about a one-year moratorium on seizing homes as a result of overdue property taxes? Or "restructuring" the property taxes?

Reducing the $500 a month I pay for property taxes would go a long way toward providing me mortgage relief.

Timothy Bennett, Baltimore

Millions of uninsured show failure of care

As the nation moves toward the humane standard of universal health care, we will hear more and more outrageous claims from those whose job it is to defend a system that places profit over care. And predictably, Michael D. Tanner of the Cato Institute talks about "the failure of national health care systems around the world" ("Wrong on health care," Commentary, Feb. 26).

I'm not sure where Mr. Tanner has been living, but the 47 million peoplewithout health insurance here, whose ranks are rapidly growing, definitely qualifies as a failure, especially when we compare our health statistics with those in countries with national health care.

In a parallel with the recent stimulus debate, in which the right tried to trot out the manifestly failed economic policies of the last eight years as some sort of panacea for our current ills, they will now try to convince Americans that our health system is a success story.

President Barack Obama has the advantage of being able to contrast his vision with the worst excesses of capitalism that were on display for eight years.

I hope he can make America a country that lives up to its rhetoric.

Tim Eastman, Baltimore

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