Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some Thoughts About the $75 Billion "Mortgage Relief Plan"

So President Obama "unveils" a $75 billion "mortgage relief plan", aimed at alleviating the burdens of some 9 million homeowners who might otherwise be unable to stay in their homes.

I'm going to make some simplistic assumptions/generalizations about this bill, just for ease of illustration and also because I do not have the details of who will get what.

The total package equates to an average of $8,333 per "troubled" home. How on earth is that amount going to save someone's home?

Even at a relatively low 7% rate (considered over the life of the loan), a $300,000 loan balloons into almost $720K paid (principle and interest). The incentive amounts to just ~1.16% of the total amount that will be paid.

Even if you assume a $300K loan at what anyone would consider a very good rate (both now and historically) of 5%, and amortized over 40 years (trying to provide a very low monthly payment), the total amount paid would end up being $694K - with the incentive again making up only about 1.2% of the total amount.

Now, I contend that sure, a lender might rather take a 7%/30-year (equivalent) loan and make it into a 5%/40-year loan (the payment difference is about 25% ~$2K/month vs. ~$1,500/month), and take a total loss over the life of the loan of ~$16K (that's a loss of $24K, but offset by the ~$8K "incentive") vs. a foreclosure, which might sound like it justifies the "mortgage relief".

However, I would argue that the same lender would rather take the total loss of $24K - with no additional incentive rather than suffer the loss incurred in a foreclosure, and we not spend $75billion demonstrably useless dollars.

Now, full disclosure here: I'm just taking a simple scenario and plugging numbers in. I'm simplifying and making assumptions; that being said, I really fail to see how there's any real additional incentive being offered by the amount in the "plan" that isn't effectively already there just by a given lender wanting to lose as little as possible.

And finally, as I will probably mention in every single post having to do with any "stimulus" or spending plan, bill, etc. - I have yet to have someone point out to me where any of this is Constitutionally allowed/authorized in the first place.
posted by Dennis at 2:46 PM (permalink) 6 comments

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Baffled But Unsurprised

I'll be the first one to say that I'm not surprised that Obama won and that McCain lost. As Rush Limbaugh has so aptly put it, McCain's entire campaign, other than Sarah Palin, was one big concession speech, and Barack Obama says "nothing" better than anyone else. Those two things together should cause no one surprise as to the result of the election.

That being said, I'm still baffled as to how, fundamentally, people just don't get it.

Raise taxes on the "rich"? Redistribute wealth to the "not rich" (who even knows what that means now or will at any given moment)? Universal health care? Raising of the capital gains tax to 20%? Raising of the estate tax? Or any of the other spending initiatives he and the other Democrats want to create? The fairness doctrine (I attribute the momentum here more to Congress than to Obama)?

The main thread running through all of these is that they are things people want (for themselves and/or others) based on how they feel. What everyone is missing on all of those, is this: Where in the Constitution does the federal government have the authority to do any of them (state governments are a different matter...which is how it's supposed to work)? I would love it pointed out to me. (Yes, it has the authority to levy taxes, but only to the degree that it is paying for that which it is justified to do in the first place! So if they stuck to what they should be doing as enumerated in the Constitution, taxes would go way down anyway).

It just baffles me to no end that folks are so willing and eager to dispense with even simple concepts of following the rules if they think they can get what they "want". And here's the thing: the Constitution allows for all of that stuff [admittedly outside of the spirit of its creation] via changes made within its own ruleset. But because changes to the Constitution for these folks to get what they want is hard (can you hear the whining?), they all just circumvent the rules set down for governing without a second thought. It's the Democrats. It's the Republicans. And it's virtually every single person who voted for Barack Obama and some of those who voted for John McCain.

The only folks who voted for Obama whose vote for which I have any respect are those who voted solely because they think that Obama's approach to national security is the right thing. Now, I vehemently disagree with them, but at least their vote is for something within the authority of the President/Federal Government to be doing in the first place.

Everyone else? Read the Constitution. Read the Federalist Papers. Read the Declaration of Independence. Get an idea of the reasons for the purposely enumerated/limited power of the Federal Government.

Obama will be taking an oath to uphold those rules and the Constitution. But he won't uphold that oath, the rules, nor the Constitution. The Constitution will continue to be symbolic (unfortunately Obama doesn't have the market cornered in unconstitutional governing). And you (you know who you are), most of the Democrats, most of the Republicans, and far too many people won't bat an eye about the throwing aside of oaths and rules because you'll be getting what you "want".
posted by Dennis at 1:41 PM (permalink) 1 comments

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Crux of the Election

While there are so many other things at stake, at risk, etc., this is a good example of the crux of the election. It's a frightening notion that whatever some cretin in Washington defines as wealth at any given moment, the owner/earner of it is unentitled to it:

Even if you make less than $250K (or $200K, or $150K, or $120K), whatever you make/have could be redefined as undeserved wealth.

Anyone not get this yet?
posted by Dennis at 1:15 PM (permalink) 0 comments

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Math Is Apparently Not The Answer

Anyone who has seen the following message, most likely spread via email:
With all the ideas being thrown around as to how to save the good ole USA from its current financial woes, here is the BEST idea so far!!

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG. Instead, I'm in favor
of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend. To
make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonifided U.S.
Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every
man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.oo

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It
Dividend. Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax
rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That
sends 25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam. But it means that every
adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife have $595,000.00. What would you do with $297,500.00
to $595,000.00 in your family?

> Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.
> Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads
> Put away money for college - it'll be there
> Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
> Buy a new car - create jobs
> Invest in the market - capital drives growth
> Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves
> Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who
lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is
cutting back; and of course, all of those that are serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of
trickling out a puny $1,000.00 ('buying the vote') economic incentive that
is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult
U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go
back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the
private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up. Here's my
rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't. Sure it's a crazy idea that
can 'never work.'

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! Can you say "Economic Boom"? Sure you can.
I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the
$85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or
in Washington DC.
And remember, my plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5
Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.
should make sure just actually to read it and think. Don't just take it at face value because it was "on the internet". It's off by a factor of 1,000 (i.e. $85 billion/ 200 million = $425.00, and not $425,000).

So, this lame idea proposes to give us all back enough for an iPhone and one month of the cheapest level of service, while giving back $25.5 billion in taxes. Yeah, great idea. How about if our lovely representatives just stick to the very limited powers enumerated in the Constitution (yeah, that old thing) and we'd have a far larger chunk than $279.50 back in our pockets on a regular basis.

Judging by the ubiquity of this darned message going around, folks could use the money to spend on some math classes and a critical thinking book or two.
posted by Dennis at 8:16 AM (permalink) 0 comments

Thursday, August 14, 2008

595U Device Corruption Fix - Not for the Faint of Heart

As it seems to go with Sprint, I was having issues again, so I was again going to cancel my contract and get out of the broadband wifi deal and just get a freakin' iPhone 3G.

I had not used my Sierra Wireless 595U card in some time because I kept getting PPP error #678 saying that the remote computer didn't want to talk to me. When I talk to Sprint, after the same lame diagnostics (that I've always already done when I call), they generally tell me, "Well that's a PPP error, and that's from Microsoft, so check with them." Feh.

I had had this issue before. While working with the air card, I would get PPP errors more and more frequently until that's all I got. So I'd have to uninstall the software and the card, reinstall and it would work. That works for a few times, and then it just never works again. That, plus the fact that a rogue 595U device resided in my Device Manager that would not uninstall. The last time this happened, I had to wipe the system completely (per Sprint). I was in the mood to do so then, so I did and everything was hunky dory until it all happened again, and here we are.

So the above being the case, I had just stopped using the air card. I thought, "Why am I paying $60/month for something I'm not using?" Then it struck me - I've solved problems without (or rather despite) Sprint before, and this was another challenge.

Ok, so here's the long story made only slightly shorter:
  • I tried to go into the registry to delete the Sierra Wireless stuff manually. No go - a bunch of the registry keys are controlled by the System account and even though the Administrators group has "Ownership" of those keys, the rights are set to read only and the System account will not let you change the rights, even though you are the "Owner" (sounds like how HOA's work, but I digress)
  • None of that worked and it seemed like entries were everywhere. So, I decided to work smarter instead of harder. I downloaded Process Monitor and decided to watch for the actual registry key(s) that that the system attempts to access when I try to uninstall the uninstallable device. Turn out it was one key:
    (this was specific to my case - the key would be different on your machine. Oh, and I will digress a moment for a disclaimer: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND/OR YOU ARE IN A POSITION TO COMPLETELY HORK YOUR SYSTEM AND NOT CARE (which was my case). I TAKE NOR SHARE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING YOU MIGHT DO TO YOUR SYSTEM BEFORE, DURING, OR AFTER YOU READ THIS POST. Thank you).
  • I still had the problem of that being one of the keys that I could not delete even as Administrator in regedit. Feh.
  • Then I found this thread (read the item second from the bottom) about using psexec to run regedit under the System account
  • I backed up my registry, typed in "psexec -s -i regedit" (from a command prompt opened as Administrator) and voila! I was able to delete that key!
  • I rebooted and magically, the rogue 595U device was no longer in my device manager. One monkey off my back for sure, but could I get the 595U actually to work again?
  • Well, I headed off to the Sprint download site, noticed that they had some new software on there (called Sprint SmartView). I installed it and *BAM* - shiznit was working again and I can again roam freely whilst enjoying wifi broadband access. Again despite Sprint! to justify getting the iPhone 3G anyway....
posted by Dennis at 8:14 AM (permalink) 0 comments

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is Your ISP Putting You at Risk?

Recently there has been a lot of publicity regarding the critical defect in DNS caching - which essentially says, if you type "" (which takes you to this blog) it should go the computer who's address is "" (at the time of this posting :) ). This critical defect allows attackers to change that address to whatever they would like (essentially), and it allows them to do it at very frightening levels, i.e. like at your ISP level. What that means is that you could patch your own systems to your heart's content, but if your ISP doesn't, then you're still at risk.

When I read this on Friday, regarding some of the world's largest ISP dragging their feet in regard to patching their DNS systems, I was appalled.

When you using a provider to whom you give money for service, go to DOXPARA Reasearch (the blog maintained by the researcher who published the flaw, Dan Kaminsky) and click on the "Check My DNS" button on the right. If you get the message, "Your name server, at, appears vulnerable to DNS Cache Poisoning" (see image below) then call your provider immediately and demand that they patch their systems. Otherwise, you may not know what site(s) you're really visiting....

By the way, here's the link to OpenDNS referenced in the image above :)
posted by Dennis at 8:30 AM (permalink) 0 comments

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Where Will It End?

So I'm having lunch in the bar area of a local wings place. There are TV's all over the place with various sports stuffs playing. One set of TV's has been playing various bits about the New England Patriots spying "scandal" (IMO, it couldn't happen to a nicer team, but I digress).

Then I look up and see Arlent Specter (R-PA)'s freaking face on the tube.

Here's my question: where in the Constitution does it outline that a Senator - on our dime - should have anything whatsoever to do with what the New England Patriots did or did not to wrong? Other than the already-basterdized Interstate Commerce clause, really, why is he spending our money on this? I mean, ok, the NFL has an "antitrust exemption", but really, should Arlen really be comparing this to the "C.I.A. destruction of tapes. Or any time you have records destroyed"?

Egads. Forgive me President Reagan, but I feel as though I may be losing hope.
posted by Dennis at 12:15 PM (permalink) 0 comments