Shiftless norms

The vote on demolition of NOLA public housing spurred a thought provoking discussion on poverty and personal responsibility in the NOLA blogosphere earlier this week, examples in the comments of postshere andhere. In contrast to thought provoking is the vitrioliccomments on breeding and the breeding “welfare mentality” at a related post by Michelle Malkin. It’s had me thinking a great deal of expectations in American society and those outside the norm. Then today, via Atrios, I read this from a post atCalculated Risk

One of the greatest fears for lenders (and investors in mortgage
backed securities) is that it will become socially acceptable for
upside down middle class Americans to walk away from their homes.

See these comments from Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis via the WSJ:Now, Even Borrowers With Good Credit Pose Risks

“There’s
been a change in social attitudes toward default,” Mr. Lewis says.
Bankers typically have believed that cash-strapped borrowers would fall
behind on their credit cards, car payments and other debts — but would
regard mortgage defaults as calamities to be avoided at all costs. That
isn’t always so anymore, he says.

“We’re seeing people who are
current on their credit cards but are defaulting on their mortgages,”
Mr. Lewis says. “I’m astonished that people would walk away from their
homes.” The clear implication: At least a few cash-strapped borrowers
now believe bailing out on a house is one of the easier ways to get
their finances back under control.

… there is a new class of
homeowners in name only. Because these people never put up much of
their own money, they don’t act like owners, committed to their
property for the long haul.

Social acceptabity for the middle class to ditch their responsibilty? Behavior often considered shiftless when speaking of the poor? How will this be explained or discussed? A thoughtful examination of the possible cause/effect relationship of limited choices on behavior to shifting societal norms? Or a merciless personal beatdown of these upside down middle class individuals? Believe me I don’t put the latter past the Malkinites but seriously how much of America can we beat away and negate in this manner before we are only leftbut to begin a serious examination of oh say… policy?

4 thoughts on “Shiftless norms

  1. virgotex says:

    In that Google video, Krugman says his worst likely scenario might see 40% of homeowners going upside down.
    Let’s see how the tone shifts then

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  2. scout says:

    Indeed virgotex

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  3. suzanne says:

    Wait a minute. You know what they say, business is business. Homeowners have every right to walk away from a mortgage that is disadvantageous. Corporations mercilessly screw honest people out of their hard earned cash on a daily basis. So now it’s all coming back to bite them.
    This is nothing more than the logical result of concentrating wealth into the hands of a small number of non-productive individuals. There’s not enough money left for the rest of us who actually do produce to function. So the entire system comes tumbling down. Is this any surprise?

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  4. cgeye says:

    From what I’ve read, the onerousness of the Bankruptcy Bill forces homeowners to keep their credit card debt, and ditch their houses.

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