Lucas County Commissioners yesterday approved a contract for $200,000 to help up to 60 families who are facing foreclosure on their homes. That's $3,333.34 each.
According to Comm. Pete Gerken, "This is darn good public policy and don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
Um...right. It's good public policy to take money from everyone in order to give it to a few who've made bad decisions with their finances over a period of time.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is NEVER good public policy. It's only good for Paul or the person who wants Paul's vote!
NewsTalk 1370 WSPD has a sound clip of Gerken on the subject (link will be added when clip is available) in which he addresses the criticism some would level on such a policy. His reasoning is that he "makes no apology" for spending tax money to help people stay in their homes.
Of course, he's not helping them - you and I are. And in taking our tax dollars for this purpose, he's saying that government needs this money to help people more than you need it for making sure you don't end up in the group they're trying to help!
Missed in all the hoopla over helping people is that the money isn't even going to the families in such need. Nope - the money is going to pay for services and classes being put on by the contracted agencies. Eligible families will participate in counselling, budget classes and training on interest rates ... a bit after the fact, if you ask me.
Perhaps the loss of a home would be a good enough lesson in those subjects. Don't misunderstand me - I'm not being an evil, heartless conservative. I don't want families to lose their homes.
I just believe that, often, the best-learned lessons are the hardest ones. Sometimes the only way people truly learn is when they are allowed to suffer the consequences of a bad decision. It happens as we grow up and it continues into our adulthood. When government steps in to try and save people from the consequences of bad decisions, the cycle - and precedent - becomes never ending. And the result is less freedom for everyone.
As it is, our commissioners are more interested in the few (60 families) than they are the many (the other 400,000 residents in the county). They're perfectly willing to expend $200,000 of your tax dollars to 'save' up to 60 families.
Now, this is only available to families - at least one parent/guardian with a minor child in the house. That's because they're using TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) dollars.
For at least four years, the commissioners have found new uses for these funds, adding new programs that can be paid for with these dollars. That's because we get more money than we actually need - and because we spend it all each year (by adding new services), we continue to get more. Lucas County has also increased the eligibility levels for many of these programs, most up to 250% of poverty level and some have been as high as 300% of poverty level.
(Remember: 300% of poverty level for a family of four is about $62,000. According to 2005 IRS data, that income puts you into the top 25% of wage earners in the United States. That's hardly 'poverty.')
As a commissioner debating a similar issue, Gerken once accused me of hating social service agencies and of not wanting to 'help' people. I replied - rather forcibly - that it wasn't that I didn't want to help people, I just believed in doing so with my own money rather than by spending other people's money that had been entrusted to me. There was no retort.
If every Ohio county spends $400,000 on foreclosure programs (the total amount that our commissioners have set aside), the cost of such help adds up to $35.2 million. If every state copies this, that's $1.76 billion - and now you're getting into 'real' money. Money that has been taken from each taxpayer who would probably have a better use for it.
“I’m sure everyone feels sorry for the individual who has fallen by the wayside or who can’t keep up in our competitive society, but my own compassion goes beyond that to the millions of unsung men and women who get up every morning, send the kids to school, go to work, try and keep up the payments on their house, pay exorbitant taxes to make possible compassion for the less fortunate, and as a result have to sacrifice many of their own desires and dreams and hopes. Government owes them something better than always finding a new way to make them share the fruit of their toils with others.” ~ Ronald Reagan
If you have an opinion about the decisions the commissioners made - or their logic in making it - let them know. They'll think they're doing the right thing unless we tell them otherwise:
Tina Skeldon Wozniak: email@example.com
Pete Gerken: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Konop: email@example.com
Phone number: 419-213-4500
For another perspective on foreclosures, try this article which says foreclosures are good for some...
GOV'T TO BLAME FOR MORTGAGE CRISIS
"There simply was no such thing as a developed Subprime mortgage industry until the US congress created it by ordering banks to issue loans to people who were not credit worthy."
- Columnist Jerry Bowyer