Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the burden on mortgage holders, fires in Greece, and refugees in Israel.

Lenders need to lessen the burden on mortgage holders

In response to the Aug. 30 article, "Subprime loans face big hikes," about interest rates on homes going up, the piece made me realize that this whole subprime mortgage business is about greed and not survival. When individuals take such loans, each signer agrees to accept a rate increase at a later date. Lenders are happy to do this because it increases the monthly income flow immediately and they can see more dollars in the future. Now the situation has changed for both parties. Many people have lost their jobs since this disaster started. That means still more opportunities for mortgage failure and no end to the madness in the foreseeable future.

Some mortgage companies have to step up to the plate and make a change. If one of the leaders in the loan industry said, "We have taken this opportunity to lessen the burden on our mortgage holders. We are still going to honor the 2.5 percent interest increase, but we are going to phase it in at a rate of a quarter percent every six months over the next five years," then mortgage holders would only have to sign new documents indicating this change. This action might give mortgage holders an opportunity to meet the new monthly payment; the loan company would still have money flowing in every month, foreclosures would drop drastically, and we'd get back on an even keel.

Tom Howard
Memphis, Tenn.

Impunity behind the Greek fires

After reading the Aug. 27 article, "Why is Greece on fire?" I thought it was disgusting that these fires were allegedly set on purpose by organized criminals, many of whom have the support of people with power in Greece – be they politicians or local government authorities. It is striking to note that two people were finally reprimanded in the vicinity of my village in Arcadia trying to set fires with petrol bombs. One of these men was a lawyer and the other was an architect, and grenades and petrol were found in their car. The unfortunate situation is that neither of these specific individuals nor others will likely be held responsible and jailed. Rather they will almost certainly be set free when their bail is posted. The traditional life in Greece is being destroyed so that people can be forced into cities where the government can have more control over them.

Victor theofilopoulos
Athens

Israel and misclassification of refugees

Regarding the Aug. 31 article, "Israelis extend mixed welcome to Sudanese," about refugees in Israel, I believe that it is incorrect to refer to them as "refugees." A refugee is defined as "a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially in response to a war." People coming from Egypt may have been refugees when fleeing to Egypt. The woman named Samia, for example, who had been in Egypt for three years but now seeks a better life in Israel, can no longer be seen as fleeing the violence in Darfur. They are no longer refugees but economic migrants.

Refugees have a duty under international law to seek asylum in the country of first refuge and not to engage in an extended journey while they shop for the best economic circumstances. Israel, given its special history, certainly has an obligation to help refugees – which it has honored. But Israel has no obligation to take in economic migrants who are no longer at risk of any physical danger. By many measures, almost every person would have a better life in the West, including Israel. There needs to be another solution for the refugees because if Israel allows these economic migrants to stay, the floodgates will be opened and Israel will be unable to meet the demands.

Michael Brautigam
Cincinnati

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to Readers Write and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to OpEd.

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