“Bitches Can’t Hang with the Streets”

by Sayani Das Chaudhuri and Grace Hong

We, the female editors of the Johnsonville Press, wanted to personally take the time to reiterate some of the most fatal and common flaws plaguing females in our age group. Of course it is not to say that these are true for every one of us, but here is a simple list of nine things you should avoid for the ease and peace of mind of everyone else that has to deal with your little heinie.

1- Don’t wear make up to the gym.

It’s okay to get sweaty and be unpolished. Looking good is important; obviously you’re already taking the first steps towards self improvement—you’re AT the gym. If you’re there for any other reason than better health, maybe you should just dance away those calories at your favorite club instead of coming in looking like a fool and completely out of place in a gym. All the other girls there hate you. They know you’re fake.

2- Don’t blame everything on your period.

It’s true, getting your period can be a bitch and a half. Cramps, bloating, “mood swings,” – it’s not necessarily a pretty sight. However, we, as human beings, as females, are capable of functioning 100% normally during this time of the month, or any other time of the month, really. We’re not completely at the whim of our biological states, we have control over our actions and our emotions and our words. Unless you’ve actually been diagnosed with some serious PMDD, using your period as an excuse to be a bitch or get what you want is completely unforgivable. By allowing men to build up this stereotypical image of a scary, illogical time of the month for all women, you’re doing yourself and all other females a disservice. Yes, you.

3- Don’t wear unreasonable shoes/clothing.

Just because Victoria Beckham can get away with walking around in eight inch heels like it’s nobody’s business doesn’t mean that you should be held to that same standard. I mean, for goodness sakes, she earned a good deal of her money being a Spice Girl! It’s true that wearing a nice pair of heels can accentuate your calf muscles and elongate your legs, and every once in a while, even the most modest of girls want to show off some of their better ASSets, but really, there is a time and place for all of this. Going on a dinner date and movie wearing a nice pair of pumps and that low-cut cami is fairly acceptable. But going to the city for a long night of drinking and walking through cobblestone streets in 30 degree weather does not constitute the circumstance most appropriate for this kind of attire. If you really want to look your best in all situations–and you can do so without spraining your ankle or complaining the entire time–then by all means, keep at it, girl. But for the rest of us, bring a pair of flip-flops for that long walk back to the train station and maybe even a sweater so you don’t have to ask other people to remove their own clothing for your comfort.

4- Don’t drunk anything (especially FACEBOOK).

They say that alcohol gives you courage and lessens your inhibitions, but this is no time for loose fingers to be walking across the keyboard or your cell. Especially not in the direction of your ex. He does not care that you are drunk at some party and are really horny, nor does he care that “so and so” wrote on your wall because you think he might have nothing better to do at 4 in the morning. I mean, maybe he does, but you’re no longer together, and your need for attention will go unrequited. It is inappropriate and foolish to think that this is the best way to get things off your chest – it usually only leads to remorse or guilt. So save all of us current girlfriends and ex-boyfriends some grief by thinking ahead just a little and AVOID DRUNK TYPING/CALLING/MESSAGING.

5- Stop saying your “fat” or “ugly” just to get some positive feedback.

There is nothing more attractive than a confident person. Period. Feeling good about yourself is something that shows through in everything that you do, including your physical appearance. And when you let your insecurities show by putting yourself down in front of others, not only do they become aware of your personal self-esteem issues, you simply become less attractive in the eyes of both men and women. And if you really ever want to have a good, supportive female friend, you won’t ever make one by constantly putting yourself down. No one wants to be BFF’s with a girl who can’t even love herself. Fishing for compliments would simply be unnecessary if you just felt secure with who you are, physically and otherwise. So stop pointing out the negatives and just do you.

6- Eat like no one’s watching.

Why do guys love Tina Fey so much? Because her character, Liz Lemon from the TV show 30 Rock is not afraid to visit the hot dog stand on a regular basis, or eat 3 donuts for breakfast (yum) without shame. Denying food is not a heroic act of discipline, and with the general attitude of rivalry between girls, it’s natural for eating to also become a competition, but not in a good way. While it’s great to eat light every now and then, it’s notokay to deny yourself everything because you’re afraid of the judgment of other girls or because you’re with a guy. It’s absolutely okay to indulge in chicken fingers or a slice of pizza, especially when everyone else is clearly with you at that eatery to do the same.

7- Don’t beat around the bush (don’t play games).

You wonder why you have failed in yet another relationship? Maybe, maybe, it’s time to try some different tactics- – none. While a cat and mouse game can be a titillating experience, life is so much easier when you’re straightforward with your desires. Not only are you being dishonest with yourself by pretending to be cutesier than you are, or more helpless (”oh, this bookbag is SO heavy, will you carry this for mee?” ::bats eyelashes::) than in reality, these games that we play with others builds a layer of deception and lies that generally become the basis of disillusionment in the future. If you want someone to like you, or if you like someone, then why wouldn’t you want him/her to like you for who you actually are? You don’t have to pretend or try harder. Again, it’s a matter of presenting a confident self that is completely comfortable with her own skin. You can do this and find love, seriously.

8- Don’t ditch your friends the second you have a boyfriend.

Butterflies and kisses are totes awesome. With each new romance, not only do you get a lover, you get a whole new best friend. But that doesn’t mean you now no longer have the time for the friends that had to listen to you whine and complain while you were single. They were there for you then, and they’re probably willing to be there for you now, and still need YOU to be there for them. Friends are the ones that will be there for you during the hard times with your boyfriend anyway, so if you push them aside, what reason would they have to come back to you whenever you get sick of your BF’s antics? After all, “I get by with a little help of my friends (I get high with a little help of my friends).”

9- Stop fawning over love and boys like it’s the only thing that will complete your life.

Honestly, one of the biggest problems that we have with female empowerment is this dual reality/expectation of females being at once both capable and independent, as well as dependent and incomplete without a male counterpart. For some reason, many girls feel as though “something is missing” or that life just isn’t as sweet and beautiful when they are single. For some reason, instead of considering the many talents and skills that they could hone and improve to better their quality of life, they are frozen and sad, sinking into deep holes of despair (“when will someone really love me (again)?”, “how can I ever get over those kisses?”) because they can’t find meaning in their lives if there isn’t some boy to share it with. Don’t you think this defeats the whole purpose of female empowerment – when 90% of time is spent dwelling on this boy or that boy? Who are we trying to convince that we are women who roar and fight, if most of us demand to be loved in order to feel complete? Take some time to reconsider what it means to retain your own identity, and to truly love yourself, with or without someone else to love you back for just for that self affirmation. Don’t get us wrong, boys are fantastic, but how often have they led to catty fights and issues between women that only make us seem even weaker in the eyes of the rest of world? It’s time to get over it, as a favor to our gender/sex, but most of all, as a favor to humanity.

Bonus #10. Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean you have to dress like a skank (hoe).

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That Kind of Girl – Anthony Xerri

In My Image

In the journey to adulthood, one of the major challenges facing us is the search for a mate. This job description takes on a multitude of characteristics depending on who defines it. Some of us guys are searching for the woman who will one day bear our children, others for someone with whom we can pass the time until we graduate and go our separate ways, and still others simply want a girl with whom we can share a night. If you’re like me, your goals might vacillate between the afore-mentioned options and many others on a weekly basis.

Regardless of what you are looking for, your search can lead you to meet all sorts of women who fill all types of roles. Today’s focus is on one such type that I’m sure many of you have encountered. You may have found yourself in the familiar position of talking to a girl you were interested in. On this particular night she seemed to be sending you all the right signals. So you find a chance to be alone with her and as your suspicions prove to be correct, things start heating up. One thing leads to another, and in the heat of the moment, as you try to take things to the next level, your trip around the base paths is halted by the “I’m not that kind of girl” routine. For many, these words represent nights filled with temptation, frustration, and masturbation.

But just what “kind of girl” is it that these young women want to prove that they are not, and why? The first thing that comes to mind is that a girl doesn’t want to be labeled a ‘slut’. She doesn’t want her girlfriends to talk about her behind her back (as they’ll probably do anyway) and she doesn’t want other guys coming to her and expecting sex. That seems reasonable—but here’s what I don’t understand. In the course of a “hookup” as kids these days are calling it, why is sex such an impenetrable line? Why does sex make you a slut while all other acts of passion are acceptable? A hookup is going to culminate (if you take my meaning) one way or another, so why shouldn’t it be in a way that both parties will enjoy? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been puzzled by a girl who says “no sex, but everything else is okay.” Is this merely an attempt to preserve her image, so she can tell her friends in the morning “Of course we didn’t have sex, I’m not that kind of girl.” You can get just as freaky without having sex.

Another reason a girl might withhold sex is that she doesn’t want to give her virginity to just anybody.That is certainly her prerogative, and before I go any further I want to be clear that I’m not trying to say that all girls should put out or anything like that. The choice is up to you. However, I do think that women place an unnecessary importance on virginity. By abstaining from sex you are depriving yourself of one of the greatest and most natural pleasures granted to mankind. If at any point in time two people want to have sex with each other and have not made a commitment to monogamy with someone else, they should do it (pun intended).

I don’t think that the fact that you’ve never had sex before is a reason not to have sex now. In fact, waiting to give it away to a special person can set you up for some serious disappointment and emotional turmoil when you come to realize that “he was just an asshole like everyone else”. Yes, sex can be an amazing experience when shared with someone you really love, but it’s pretty damn enjoyable no matter who your partner is. Gaining a little experience before you meet “The One” isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Up until this point I have aimed my rant specifically at women. Although it is my experience that most men do not place the same significance on virginity, (growing up I couldn’t wait to lose mine!) there are still those who choose to abstain. Many such people will cite religious reasons for remaining virgins until marriage. I know a fair amount of Catholic students here at Rutgers (at least three) who believe that premarital sex goes against God’s will. I’m not going to touch on the subject of God’s existence—at least not today. But I will point out that I have not been able to find a passage in the Bible that specifically forbids premarital sex. There are a few that come very close, (although not in the four gospels) so I will grant that they can be legitimately interpreted as such. However, I’m pretty sure that acts other than simple sexual intercourse would be prohibited by such passages forbidding “fornication” and “sexual relations” outside of marriage. So for those who follow the Bible and draw the line at intercourse, you might want to think about adjusting that line.

Sex is a great thing. It is perhaps the greatest natural pleasure in which man can partake. Do not deprive yourself because of what your friends will think, or because of what you’ve been told the Bible says—just use protection. If religion is your reason for abstaining, do some research on your own. Your findings might surprise you. In my opinion, if God does exist, sex is one of his gifts. It would be cruel of him to give us such means for pleasure and then forbid us for enjoying them. I will leave you now with some words of advice from the late great George Harrison: “Make love all day long. Make love singing songs.”

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Let the Bodies Hit the Floor: Some Points Against Gun Control Legislation

No Simple High Way 4/9/08

By Mike Stuzynski

The following is a verbatim transcription of a column submitted for publication in last Friday’s Daily Targum Opinions page.  Editor-in-Chief John S. Clyde refused to publish the piece, citing worries that the visceral depictions of suicide across cultures might lead some students to kill themselves, resulting in a lawsuit against the Daily Targum.  The column was written as a rebuttal to Josh Baker’s argument for stricter gun control laws two days earlier.  It is reproduced here, in its original unedited form, so that the readers of The Johnsonville Press, who we hold to be intelligent enough to keep their rifles (and guns) out of their own mouths, can have access to both sides of this important issue.

In his column in Wednesday’s Daily Targum, conspicuously titled “Welcome to the gun show,” Josh Baker reiterated the typical liberal party-line position on gun legislation in America.  Arguing that the recent wave of sensationalized mass shootings/suicides could have been prevented by stricter gun control, the writer develops his argument by listing the prerequisites for a person to commit murder, illustrating the “frightening” efficiency of firearms as implements of death, and ending with a critique of the Second Amendment.  Noah Glyn gave an articulate response in Thursday’s paper to Baker’s oversimplified attack on our nation’s Constitutional right to bear arms, but his short letter was not sufficient in addressing all of the misguided points made in the original column.

Toward the beginning of his column, Baker uses statistics from the Center for Disease Control that 3/5 successful suicides are perpetrated with firearms to illustrate “just how frighteningly efficient firearms are at killing, especially when compared to other methods.”  In his argument, because “self-inflicted cutting wounds account for 15 percent of all suicide attempts but only 1 percent of all successful suicides,” and “poisons and drugs account for 70 percent of suicide attempts but less than 12 percent of all suicides,” guns must have some awesome power that these other methods simply lack.

This is a gross oversimplification, and represents a terrible oversight on behalf of the author, as it completely rules the intent of alleged suicide victims out of the equation.  For example, statistics show that a significant number of adolescents go through periods in which they practice mild self-mutilation or “cutting,” as a means of dealing with the stress in their lives.  According to an article in the September 4, 2008 edition of Science Daily, “Self-harm is an international, widespread yet often hidden problem.”  However, self-mutilation in itself is not necessarily evidence of true suicidal intent.  Many young people routinely cut the top of their wrists, much to the horror of their parents who can easily overreact and label their child as “suicidal.”

The ingestion of pills or other drugs as a form of suicide is also highly suspicious, as one must wonder about the intent of the perpetrator.  There was a girl in my high school who allegedly tried to off herself by swallowing 8 Advil at once.  They sent her to the hospital, labeled it an attempted suicide, and she spent a few weeks in a psychiatric ward, but no one seemed suspicious about the fact that she left at least 30 pills in the bottle.  Of course, for the serious suicide candidate, 50 Ambien chased promptly by a few glasses of whiskey should do the job nicely. Morbid as they are, these are distinctions that deserve serious attention, as Josh has structured a pivotal point in his argument against firearm possession around such dubious statistics.

If we subject his data to more serious analysis, his case becomes more dubious still. Consider the island of Japan, a nation that has historically held very stringent gun control laws.  According to the Asia Times, there was one suicide every fifteen minutes in Japan, totaling 100 a day on average. in 2003  Japanese culture has a tradition of encouraging ritualistic suicide in order to restore one’s lost honor.  Seppuku, or the ritualized cutting of the abdomen to achieve evisceration, was the only honorable technique up until the Meiji Restoration.  In modernity, the method of choice has evolved into asphyxiation in a car with carbon monoxide, though grisly knife-related suicides are not uncommon.

Asphyxiation and ritual disembowelment are extremely effective suicide techniques that reflect an extreme commitment to the act, something that is not necessarily always present in poisoning or wrist-cutting attempts.  Imagine dragging a knife across your stomach, releasing your small intestines—it’s not a joke—spill your guts and it’s all over in a matter of a few agonizing minutes.  Americans, not surprisingly, prefer the Hemingwayesque method; shotgun to the brain stem and it’s lights out—show’s over—snow falling softly atop Kilimanjaro.

The more liberal among you must pardon me if I have trouble believing Josh when he states, parroting statistics from the U.S. Justice Department, that because “66 percent of the nation’s 16,137 murders in 2004 were committed with firearms, it is a safe bet that the majority of these murder would never have occurred if guns had not been available.”  First of all, what does he mean by the word “available?”  Living in New Jersey, it is increasingly difficult for anyone, young people  especially, to acquire any firearm, much less a semi-automatic handgun, by legal means.  The background checks are too much of a hassle, and the inflated price of the weapon itself is generally enough to deter many, especially in difficult economic times.  To further put things in perspective, New Jersey also recently passed a Draconian law classifying AirSoft guns—those stupid fifteen dollar pieces of plastic that shoot yellow pellets—as illegal firearms.  It’s tough enough to buy a paintball gun, and you can’t even own a slingshot in this state without having to worry about being hassled by the cops.

Knowing about these laws, you might be inclined to wonder why a city like Newark still boasts a murder rate higher than the national average.  Not only are the majority of murders in Newark committed with firearms, but the increased gun legislation in the past three years has done very little to deter the proliferation of street crime there, among other troubled New Jersey cities.  Of course, this doesn’t surprise me one bit, as it is almost as easy to buy firearms illegally as it is to purchase alcohol and tobacco  underage .  During my tenure at Rutgers, four different people have approached me unsolicited and offered to sell me or a friend of mine an illegal handgun.  One kid even quoted me on his price: $300 for a 32-clip capacity 9mm semi-automatic.  If you want to buy a “burner” that doesn’t have any bodies on it, the price doubles, but is nevertheless cheaper than the those offered by most legitimate gun dealers.

I could write on this subject for hours, but the bottom line is that the majority of gun violence is perpetrated with firearms that have been acquired on the black market, making the argument of increasing gun legislation basically moot.  I’m actually surprised that most liberals don’t understand this, as it basically follows the same logic as their argument against the prohibition of drugs—if you make something illegal, it will still be available on the black market, so the government might as well regulate it to keep everyone a little safer.

You really want to cut down on gun violence?  Get a ballistic print on file from every licensed firearm sold or owned in the United States, insuring that people cannot get away with committing a crime with guns they have purchased by the books.  While this may not stop all of the tragic incidents of mass-murder/suicide the media seems to love so much, it could very well lead to a reduction in the number of casualties racked up by these sensationalized, rogue gunmen.  Popular rhetoric always bemoans the fate of innocents confronted by a lone madman with a brace of semi-automatic handguns, as if it were something that could never have been prevented, but I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if just one of the hostages inside the Binghamton Civic Association building had been equipped with a licensed personal firearm.

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What is Seen and Not Seen – Wesley James Young

Having spent some of my time criticizing the ideas of others and theorizing about the source of various flaws in our tutoring services, I feel it time to make clear from where my arguments originate.

There are many different labels that one could use to describe me: Liberal, Conservative, Smith-Hayek, and Quixotic. Such labeling fallaciously assumes a system of abstract ideals to describe my way of thinking. My views have a very simple basis: “if I know a man is determined to help me, I run away.” I am not against the idea of having a government but I am against the idea of treating it like Hercules. Rolling our responsibilities onto his semi-divine shoulders while we go apple picking, only to be tricked into having our own burdens plus a few more returned to our shoulders. A more concrete example would be minimum wage laws. If the lowest wage anyone would receive without such laws is $6 and the new law mandates $6.50, then You have made the guy with a job $.50 richer but you have also made the next employee $.50 more expensive which will lower employment and ultimately lower potential future growth (a burden). The increase in wages will translate to higher prices which will nullify that short term gain and translate into having the previous wage problems returned plus a reduction in employment.But I am a firm believer in taking things with a grain of salt, and so I supplement this article with one by Hugh Rockoff, a more learned economist than myself to support my reasoning: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PriceControls.html. I know there are studies that support the existence of the minimum wage but I have yet to see a reason why that is consistent with the rest of economic theory. If you find a more convincing reason, let me know.

I am to the straw man commonly referred to as a “free market fundamentalist.” The ability for man to satiate his needs through truck, barter, and exchange has led to the wonders of the modern era. If the whaling industry and the protections that are given to ethanol producers and sugar mongers were not so inhibitory, perhaps today we would be driving whale powered cars–who can say? If there were higher taxes on whale oil, would petroleum have been discovered any sooner? Environmentalists claim that the market cannot get us off of oil fast enough, but why should I fuel up with hydrogen, if oil is cheaper?  How many of the government advancements which have benefited the general public resulted from the intended purpose of government research? The internet was originally intended for defense department communication and Teflon was first used as a coating for missile nosecones. Companies invest in technologies that may increase their profits, legislators invest in votes and altruism. When a government project fails, a congress man gets another term. When GM fails, the CEO gets the boot. How long can we sustain such hypocrisy?

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The Popular Capitalist View – Carl Peter Klapper

An Introduction

Perhaps the best way of introducing this column is by briefly describing what popular capitalism is and applying it to a relevant topic of the day, specifically the mortgage crisis. This choice of application was made based not only on the widening scope of what is fast becoming a calamity of epic proportions through the obstinate folly of our leaders in pursuing and escalating a failed policy, but also from my personal experience in the field. Around the turn of the millenium, I was an application developer in mortgage and financial software, for which I utilized not only my programming skills, but my education and experience as an economist. Let us start, though, with the theoretical basis of this article and the column.

“Popular Capitalism”, as I have been using the term since the early 1980’s, is a political-economic philosophy which seeks to achieve the central goal of populism through capitalism. That central goal is power for all of the people, individually and without exception. To paraphrase Huey Long, populists seek to make the people kings and queens within the confines of their own castle. In my book, “Popular Capitalism”, this is achieved through applying the principles of classical economics to all institutions that affect or direct the transference of power within a community. The reason for taking a classical approach is not because I believe it predicts economic outcomes, but because it establishes a basis for the equitable allocation of costs and benefits which, in turn, discourages decisions that are damaging and encourages decisions which are helpful.It is a matter of laying down a fair set of rules for a game so that the players can feel that the game is worthwhile. If this is not done, then the unfairly treated players will, in one way or another, take their ball away and go home. One of the major conclusions of my book is that the critical point of fairness is that government should pay the costs of sovereignty and that those costs are the provision of survival value. Further, that provision should not distort the incentives and disincentives of the markets, and therefore their potential efficiency, as this would make the accumulation of independent wealth by the poorest of the people more difficult and less likely. Therefore, neither popular capitalism nor populism in general is egalitarian. Beyond the individual castles, power is and should be given to those who make the best use of it and thereby enhance the lives, wellbeing and power of their neighbors. In place of equality, Popular Capitalism offers freedom, independence and fairness. Popular Capitalism wants the people, even the weakest, to be free, alive and able to work where they can be most productive, being fairly rewarded for their success and fairly bearing the cost of their failures.

It is with this same sense of fairness that I have approached today’s great scourge: the mortgage crisis. Note that I do mean the same sense of fairness, a complete sense of fairness which encompasses the good times as well as the bad. I have heard far too much self-righteousness lately where powerless scapegoats are to be exiled to the nether regions as if that will fix any of the fundamental structural problems which are bedeviling us. Such talk disgusts and dismays me; it only sets us against each other when we need to help support each other. I have also heard more nonsense than I care to about CMOs, to which I will only say that the problem there was the introduction of credit default swaps. All of these avenues for recrimination and blame are mere icing on the cake. The root of the mortgage crisis is a sacred cow of such socially unimpeachable stature that I will surely be crucified for uttering such blasphemy. The root of the problem is the conventional mortgage itself.

Now I have said it. Before you prepare my crown of thorns, though, I would have you consider who reaps the rewards and who bears the loss from the all-blessed mortgage and whether that arrangement is at all fair. The buyer advances perhaps twenty percent of the purchase price of a home, with the lender fronting the remaining eighty percent. Though the lender in this all so conservative version of mortgage lending will verify the income of the borrower and new resident, that income is not the basis of the loan. The basis is the collateral which is the market value of the home. If the borrower takes a pay cut or loses their job, the lender will not go after the employer or former employer for the remaining principal. The lender will instead wait for the borrower to default, at which point the lender will foreclose and sell the foreclosed property for what he can.This shows clearly that a mortgage, being a loan based on collateral is, in reality, not a loan at all but an equity transference instrument.

Let us examine then the benefits and costs to borrower and lender of increased and decreased home prices relative to the initial purchase price. If the price of the home goes up $100K after ten years when it is sold, the borrower realizes a profit of $100K even though his average equity stake might be around 40%. We can consider the interest to be his non-equity share of the rental charge of using the property as a dwelling.The remaining principal allows him to stay in his dwelling, so the interest compensates the lender for not being able to use that principal value. However, the lender receives nothing for the increase in the home’s value, even though his equity stake has averaged 60%.

Conversely, when the house prices go down by $100K, the borrower takes the whole $100K loss and the lender none under certain circumstances. What are the circumstances? If the lower price exceeds the remaining principal, then the borrower can still lose money by walking away. However, if the lower price fails to meet the remaining principal, particularly by a significant amount, then the borrower will save money by defaulting and abandoning the home. If the loss in insurmountable, the borrower may have no other choice.When this happens, the lender bears 100% of the loss. This introduces a bias in the contract towards the borrower.

The process by which the borrower’s gain or loss is magnified is called “leveraging”, which is a euphemism for speculating with other people’s money. The bias we have just seen in favor of the speculator and against the “other people” is an inherent feature of leveraged contracts like mortgages. This bias encourages more speculating with other people’s money, applying it to the market for the collateral product, in this case real estate. This produces a bias towards increased home prices. This, in turn, reduces the probability that the lender loss case will occur over the near term. Borrowers are virtually assured that there will be lenders as the speculative bubble starts expanding. Riskier borrowers are then preferred by lenders because their greater probability of default allows lenders to gain a windfall profit during a foreclosure: the profit they would have to forego with more creditworthy borrowers. Prices escalate and an expectation for further increases becomes entrenched. Even responsible borrowers who come late into an inflated real estate market and job market take the exorbitant housing prices to be the norm, buying houses based on an unsustainable income. It is when reliance on housing and job inflation is at its peak that the real estate and job markets are at their most vulnerable. The slightest softening results in lost jobs and then foreclosed homes which leaves other homeowners more vulnerable when the loss of neighbors and their expenditures leads to more job losses andso on as the bubble bursts. This devolution of the local economies puts more and more of the cautious homeowners at risk as once thriving communities more and more resemble ghost towns.

There is, however, a way out of this dismal scenario, and it involves replacing the disastrously leveraged conventional mortgage with a non-leveraged equity percentage transference instrument, the Adjustable Equity Mortgage or AEM. The AEM eliminates leveraging by tying the remaining principal and the monthly payment to the current market value of the home. In our previous example, as the home price increased, the lender would receive a larger coupon payment and when the borrower sold the property with, say, 50% equity, the lender and he would evenly split the profit with $50K each. Conversely, the loss would be evenly split and there would be no case where the borrower would have negative equity that might induce him to abandon the house or saddle the lender with a loss. Even if housing inflation occurs for other reasons, there is no benefit for a lender to take on a risky borrower. The factors by which the conventional mortgage produces speculative bubbles simply do not apply to AEMs.

Moreover, conversion of conventional mortgages, even of recent foreclosed properties, into AEMs rehabilitates those contracts. By adjusting the remaining principal and coupon payments – by multiplying the current values by the current market value divided by the initial market value – the resulting instrument is more sustainable as borrowers can make payments with the lower paying jobs now available in their region and both borrower and lender can avoid turning a paper loss into a real one. Where the AEM has to be terminated, it can be done gracefully and without prejudice, with the borrower receiving his percentage share of the equity and applying it towards a down payment in a cheaper housing market. Thus, collapse in the real estate market is replaced by shifting and realignment.

Since this is a solution by means of contract law, its administration lies naturally in the courts. Thus I suggest the founding of a judicial bank, preferably at the federal level with state branches. If the federal government is not forthcoming, New Jersey will have to form its own judicial bank to administer AEMs and other non-leveraged and approved contracts. Whatever the level, the costs of this solution are minimal administrative ones, obviating the massive public spending and borrowing that are destroying our economy.

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