Is It Right or Wrong?

Today, here are two moral dilemma stories. What do you think? Are either, or both of these, right, or wrong?

A number of years ago, in Michigan, some dealers experimented with a system that had a computer chip installed in vehicles which were financed. If the payments were past due, the owner would get a warning from this electronic signal in the car. It warned that the vehicle would become inoperable if the payment was not made within three days. Another warning came through the car the following day. Then, on day three, the car’s electronic system was automatically shut down, and wouldn’t start. Talk about a way to get someone’s attention to make their payment!

The dealerships were able to finance the vehicles with this software for a lower interest rate, because the risk of arrears was much lower on these loans. It resulted in a lot less repossessions, but the backlash was so huge, the technology didn’t take off to any large degree. Very bad idea, or would you buy it with the mindset that it’s reasonable not to drive something you can’t afford to pay?

Last year, in the U.S., between 700,000 and one million people walked away from their homes – but not in a typical foreclosure.

Strategic defaults are foreclosures of homes were the mortgage holder HAS the money, and HAS the ability to pay, but chooses not to. These people owe more on their home than the value, and make a conscious decision to stop making the payments. It will give them six months or so free housing until the bank comes to foreclose. At that point they walk away, reasoning, they’re saving themselves tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars paying a debt that is way more than their home is worth. They literally trash their credit, but reason that they are still way ahead, financially, by now being able to walk away from their home. In many interviews, on various programs, a lot of these homeowners were asked if they didn’t feel guilty, or some moral obligation to pay the mortgage that they CAN pay and voluntarily signed. The answer has always been no.

If you have the financial ability to pay, would you walk away if you owed $10,000 more than your home was worth? What about $50,000? What about when the value of your home has dropped by 50% or more such as many places in Arizona, Florida, or California have experienced?

Before you answer that, you should know something else. The biggest apartment complex in the world is Stuyvesant Village in New York. We’re talking 11,000 apartments and 18 highrises. In January, they defaulted on a $4.4 billion mortgage and voluntarily walked away. And who was one of the big five investors? The Church of England.

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