In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 22, 2010/ 8 Iyar 5770

Mortgages and Moral Meltdowns

By Arnold Ahlert

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Who knew everything wrong with America could be succinctly explained in a single segment of a morning news program? That's precisely what occurred on April 20th edition of NBC's "Today." It was a story about companies who help people default on their mortgages—people who can afford those mortgages, but decide to default anyway. Before America's moral meltdown, such a decision would be called something like "welshing on one's obligations." Now, aided and abetted by ethically corrupt companies—whose entire reason for existing is to promote ethical corruption—such decisions are referred to as "strategic defaults."

Welcome to the brave new world where clever vocabulary confers absolution on rotten behavior. "We weren't in any financial distress, but the value of the house had declined so precipitously that continuing to stay in this house and paying this inflated mortgage made no sense," said Chris Schreur of California, who contacted a company called You Walk Away, which helped him literally walk away from a freely-signed contractual obligation. "My degree is economics, so I understand that you don't keep putting money into a losing proposition just because you already put money in," he added.

Apparently they don't teach ethics along with economics, which might explain a lot about the current state of the country. Mr Schreur continues: "Objectively the hardest part was the hit to the credit rating. Defaulting on a debt is the hardest thing to accept."

Not hard enough to do the right thing, evidently.

Unfortunately, Mr. Schreur and so many other Americans like him have their enablers. "The nature of the act of walking away has always been associated with being a deadbeat, a failure, etc," said Jon Maddux, CEO of You Walk Away . "But it is now seen as a business decision."

Pardon me for noticing, but Mr. Maddox sounds remarkably like the contract killers in "The Godfather" who reminded their victims just before murdering them that it too was "strictly business." Not to be outdone, NBC's George Lewis ambled even further down Enablement Alley: "One bit of advice? Don't feel guilty," he said.

Doing the right thing is only possible if two conditions exist: one, the right thing has to be knowable; and two, doing the wrong thing has to induce some sort of shame or guilt. With regard to both, the progressive/secularist movement in this country has had remarkable success in obscuring the former—and virtually eliminating the latter. Never before have we had so many Americans so thoroughly convinced that nothing is their own fault.

And never before have we had so many other Americans willing to cover for them.

Letter from JWR publisher

Back to NBC's George Lewis: "While owning one's own home is still a large part of the American dream, many people who've walked away from their mortgages and are now renting say they found a certain peace of mind. The Schreur's say their strategic default left them feeling a lot better … A feeling now shared by many in this country."

That's a lot of "feelings," Mr. Lewis. Feelings are what people like to talk about when thinking becomes uncomfortable. My Baby Boomer generation was the first one mass-fed the idea that "if it feels good, do it." It is a testament to the utter vacuousness of the so-called "revolution of the '60s" that no one bothered to mention the stunningly obvious corollary to that slogan: "if it feels good do it— and live with the consequences."

Thus, fifty years later, peace of mind is what you get for a guilt-free default on your obligations—and even if that little voice in the back of your head is inclined to speak up, it will be drowned out by "a feeling now shared by many in this country," according to Mr. Lewis.

Host Matt Lauer also interviewed "Today" financial editor Jean Chatzky. "There are people who say you made a deal, you have a commitment, you have a mortgage, it hurts your neighbors. Is that a fair argument?" Lauer asked.

"It's an understandable argument, but I think when you look at the business case, it is just as understandable to walk away from a bank that lent you more than you could afford on a property that was not as valuable as both of you thought," said Chatzky.

I suspect that if NBC decided to "walk away" from Ms. Chatzky's contract, based on the idea that she was "not as valuable as they originally thought," she'd be a tad less magnanimous.

The entire cast of characters in this sordid tale can sugar-coat it anyway they want, but they should understand this: decent Americans aren't buying into moral delinquency served up as a sob story. Anyone who wants to walk away from a mortgage he can afford is free to do so. But this is one American who'll be be damned before I pat him on the head and tell him it's OK. People who blow off obligations, are deadbeats—period.

I suspect that many of my regular readers may notice that I bang the morality drum quite a bit. There's a good reason for this: it is my contention that no society can survive a prolonged infatuation with moral ambiguity . That is not to say we must become a nation of Bible-thumping Puritans. But if we've gotten to the point where people can not only break contracts, but break them without remorse , where does it stop? How long before a critical number of Americans decide that a couple of other "contracts"—the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—are as easy to toss aside as any other? The only thing that separates us from the hell-holes of totalitarian oppression on this planet is the idea that we are a nation of laws, not men.

So far.

Memo Number One to You Walk Away CEO Jon Maddux and others like him: kid yourself all you want, but you're selling moral corruption to people willing to be morally corrupted. Fyi, that's what pimps do.

Memo Number Two to Mr. Schreur and others like him: whether you know it or not, you've gone through two bankruptcies—one financial, the other moral.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR Contributor Arnold Ahlert's column, by clicking here.


Bashing Christians — Or Gays?
04/15/10: Personal Integri-‘tea’
04/12/10: Fools, Tools and Ghouls
04/08/10: (Tea) Party On
04/05/10: The Triumph of Mediocrity
04/02/10: Two For the Road
03/29/10: The Innate Immorality of Liberalism
03/24/10: The Art of War
03/22/10: I Want My Country Back
03/18/10: A Perpetual Process
03/17/10: American Exhibitionists
03/15/10: A Light Bulb Moment of Clarity
03/10/10: Little Things Mean A Lot
02/03/10: Budgetary Fork in the Road
02/01/10: Liberal Economic Illiteracy
01/27/10: ‘Roe-ing and Wade-ing’ Back to Reason
01/25/10: Arrogance When Up, Denial When Down
01/20/10: Connecting the Educational Dots
01/19/10: The Next Tea Party?
01/15/10: The Myth That Keeps on Giving
01/13/10: Airport Security Begins Away From the Airport
01/11/10: Secrets and Lies
01/08/10: Embracing Bigotry — or Rejecting Bullying?
01/06/10: Hanging by an Ideological Thread
01/04/10: Our ‘Wonderama’ Bureaucracy
12/30/09: A Day Off
12/28/09: Dangerous Myths
12/25/09: I, Me, Mine
12/23/09: A Very Harry Christmas
12/21/09: My Opinon
12/18/09: The Party of Repeal
12/15/09: Privileged Exemption
11/30/09: ‘Settled’ Science and Unsettled Children
11/30/09: American Sharia Law
11/23/09:The Trial (Travesty) of the Century
11/04/09: American Vampires and Their Political Enablers
11/01/09: ‘Opting Out’ of Insanity?
10/28/09: Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer. Brain Required
10/26/09: Communism: Nazism With Better PR
10/21/09: Just Asking
10/16/09: Cost Projections vs. Actual Costs, or Hope and Change vs. Reality
10/14/09: News you can use …
10/07/09: Incremental Insidiousness
10/05/09: MIA: Common Sense and Common Decency
09/30/09: Iran: Bad Options and Unpreparedness
09/21/09: Crying Racism: the Last Refuge of Scoundrels
09/11/09: 9/11 Cannot Be Sanitized
09/08/09: ‘Truthers’ and Consequences
09/01/09: A ‘Paper Trail’ Challenge for the Mainstream Media
08/31/09: Drowning in Amorality
08/26/09: The Republican Recovery Program

© 2010, Arnold Ahlert