'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TIME TO BAIL OUT BILL
Dear Webster Bank:
This letter is to inform you that my wife and I have decided to take advantage of the $700 billion Bailout Bill recently passed by Congress. As your records will indicate, we have been making mortgage payments each month for the past 22 years, which means we have eight years remaining on our 30-year mortgage.
However, my wife and I believe we have paid enough. We are very impressed with a provision in the Bailout Bill that allows the government to arbitrarily change the principal balances of existing mortgage contracts. For example, if the outstanding balance on a particular mortgage is $300,000, the government now has the authority to step in and declare, “No, the new balance is actually $100,000.” Even though a binding, legal contract was signed, even though the lending institution gave the borrower $300,000 to purchase a home, only $100,000 needs to be repaid. Is this a great country, or what?
Taking our cue from the politicians in Washington, we have arbitrarily decided that as of this moment our mortgage balance with you is exactly zero. From this point forward we will not be sending you any more monthly payments.
We suspect you will not be very pleased with our decision. You might be inclined to protest, insisting that a deal is a deal and a contract is a contract. Trust me, a few weeks ago we would have agreed with you wholeheartedly. But that was before the Bailout Bill was passed. That was before Congress made it clear that our new national policy is: behave irresponsibly and we’ll fix it; ignore your promises and we’ll cover you.
You have to admit, up until now my wife and I have been model customers. We have sent you our mortgage payment on time every single month for 22 straight years. (Well, except for that one time a few years ago when my wife asked me to put our payment in the mail, but somehow I shoved it in my briefcase with a bunch of other paperwork from my office and a copy of “Sports Illustrated.” I must say, your late-payment notices are rather nastily worded.)
If you think our decision is unfair, if you think this will cause your institution financial harm, we have a suggestion: call Sen. Chris Dodd. Maybe he can get you one of those sweetheart deals, like the ones he’s personally enjoyed over the years.
The bottom line is, we don’t want to make mortgage payments anymore. Twenty-two years out of 30, in our view, is more than enough. My wife and I have been playing by the rules all our lives: pay the mortgage each month on time (except for the previously noted single exception), pay our credit card bills in full each month, keep our older vehicles running rather than take out new car loans, don’t purchase items unless we can afford them, etc.
As it turns out, we were fools. We didn’t realize we were supposed to “live large” by piling up a mountain of debt without any idea of how to pay it off. Following the lead of our noble public servants in Washington—and of course, Hartford—my wife and I now begin a new chapter in our lives: the era of fiscal recklessness and broken promises has begun! Hurray!
In conclusion, dear friends at Webster Bank, we thank you for your support in the past and we wish you well in the future. We’re sure everything will work out for you. But in keeping with the new American Way, the check is NOT in the mail.
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