Make the financial industry pay for its mistakes
Regarding the Feb. 20 editorial, "Obama threads a mortgage needle": I have a few thoughts about President Obama's proposed cash incentives for mortgage-holders and servicing agencies to negotiate with homeowners and keep them in their homes where possible. The goal is appropriate; the solution is not. The first half of the bailout package was intended to motivate the financial industry to do the right thing; it did not work. One cannot continue to reward bad behavior, as the government is currently doing.
The correct way to minimize foreclosures is to increase the cost of this behavior. A temporary federal surcharge for foreclosures by federally regulated entities, payable up front by the foreclosing financial institution, would do the trick. This is not a tax. Think of it as a use fee. The industry is using our legal system to save itself from the consequences of its reckless, and, in some cases, predatory, lending practices.
The advantages are that this approach sends the right message. It places the cost on the industry that caused the problem rather than on the taxpayers, and it only punishes the industry when it refuses to take the desired actions. It doesn't prevent all foreclosures, but it would be sufficient to prevent them for most homeowners who could make payments at a reduced interest rate.
Let the market determine gas prices
In regard to the Feb. 23 Opinion piece, "Raise the price of gas to $4 a gallon – before the next oil crunch": Author Erica Etelson suggests we are heading for a big oil shock because companies have responded to the slump in oil and gas prices by canceling plans for expanded exploration and development. Then she proposes a "solution" that is just this side of ludicrous: namely, that we impose a tax on gasoline to stabilize its retail price at $4 a gallon.
While I agree that such a move could encourage further conservation measures, I have to ask, why does she think that would influence companies to explore and develop more resources? If anything, it would have the opposite effect, precisely because it would encourage conservation, thereby reducing future market for the product.
There may be good reasons for a gasoline tax, but that is not one of them.
Don't change the TVA
Regarding the Feb. 25 Opinion piece, "Obama's moment to fix the TVA": The Tennessee Valley Authority is more than a power company. It manages the Tennessee River and its shoreline. The TVA is a good steward of the river. It is hard to imagine a private company with the ability or willingness to look after the river or to protect its shoreline from private developers.
The TVA, on the other hand, has a trust and it keeps it.
Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Obama must appoint liberal judges
In regard to the Feb. 18 editorial, "Obama's next test on bipartisanship": Bipartisanship in the selection of judges may be a worthy goal. Unfortunately, the Bush administration managed to so overload the federal courts (at every level) with conservative and ultraconservative judges that the only way to make the courts relatively bipartisan is to balance the bench with a considerable number of reasonably liberal judges. Following the middle will only leave the country with a very right-of-center judiciary.
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