I find it very curious that so much of the public wrath over the subprime mortgage meltdown is aimed at the people who took out those mortgages, and not at all at the institutions that knowingly offered them.
When Michael and I went through our brief and unhappy experience with home ownership, we were constantly being pressured to take on additional mortgage debt, to accept an adjustable rate, and we were constantly being offered ridiculously low sweetener rates to get us to say yes to those things. We stood our ground and refused, and barely broke even when we sold the place.
And now people with regular mortgages who've paid them reliably and faithfully for years are facing foreclosure because they lost their jobs or they've been bankrupted by health care costs that their insurance won't cover. They certainly can't renegotiate their mortgage terms now.
It never ceases to amaze me that almost all of our discussion and legislation about poverty and bankruptcy is punitive. Republican thinking about social and economic ills is entirely punitive, and punitive toward the poor. I think that this is the lingering legacy of that punitive misanthropic Calvinism brought over by the Puritans in 17th century Massachusetts, and which has had a disproportionate influence on our culture. Everything comes down to the individual at the fork in the road all the time. Never mind who built the damn road in the first place, for what purpose, in whose interest, and if the signs on it are all honest. It always comes down to "personal" choice no matter what. As a result, the jails are packed with petty thieves while those who committed epic grand larceny wander freely about the legislative halls.
Laws, said Balzac, are like the spider's web; they catch the small flies while letting the big ones go free.