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Letters to the Editor - April 10, 2009

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By The Staff

Stimulus package

for seniors

After 30 years as a financial counselor, I am convinced the physical and mental health of most seniors is a direct result of their financial health.

The headlines today are filled with financial disaster, toxic mortgages, loss of jobs, people losing their homes, diminishing retirement accounts, fear and anger…but in the midst of this meltdown stands a federal government program with a 20-year success story for seniors only, called a “Reverse Mortgage,” which has not only risen above the disasters, but has even been upgraded three times recently to give seniors more financial options.

Seniors can now buy a home using an R/M.

The county loan limit has been raised from $417,000 to $625,500. (It was $147,000 in 2003.) This is the greatest time in 20 years to take advantage of this program.

Fact: Fear creates worry and both affect longevity. Eliminating fear can actually save some people’s lives.

Fact: You have never seen R/Ms in the toxic or foreclosure headlines, as they aren’t there. (There are no monthly payments. Therefore there are no foreclosures for nonpayment.)

As a 72-year-old senior, I have educated several thousand seniors throughout Florida and Oklahoma. I have never met one who could explain an R/M, even though it is a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

The AARP wrote a book about it.

Check out “The National Council on Aging.”

In today’s perilous times, this FHA/HUD guaranteed program stands out as a welcome “Stimulus Plan” for seniors only.

Therefore, the focus of this article is not to explain R/M’s, as I only do that in person, but rather to show a few actual examples of how they apply to different circumstances and change lives.

Understand these few illustrations are taken from a list of hundreds of cases written since 2003.

Key Largo – Lady, 82, condo on water, making crafts for tourists to pay bills. Wrote R/M. She gave crafts to friends and planned trip to Spain, England and Germany. She was Mel Tillis’ high school teacher.

Jacksonville – Man, 75, lost business and wife, retired. Owned a 4,000 square foot home with over 500 ft. on the St. Johns River. He could not maintain the home, was grief-stricken and would not move. Wrote R/M. Fixed property, paid off bills, lived there three more years. Sold property for big profit and bought condo on beach.

Couple, 65, retired with desire to buy motor home and travel but could not afford it. Wrote R/M. They are still traveling after five years.

Couple, 78, both sick, foreclosure papers served. $787 monthly payment. Church friends called me. We ran the numbers, called bank attorneys, and got an extension from the judge. R/M written and closed in six weeks. They still live in their home and have no monthly payments. This is one of my favorites.

88-year-old retired Marine colonel, two Purple Hearts from Iwo Jima. $976 monthly payment on house. Sister spent his savings. Financial disaster. Wrote R/M. Paid off his existing mortgage and increased his income by $1,400 a month.

Said to me, “Tom, it’s like starting life all over again.”

Jacksonville – Grandmother had old two-bedroom house which was leaking from the roof, and the porch rotting. Grandchildren don’t visit and no money available to repair. Wrote R/M. Paid debts, built new porch, repairs roof, fixed A/C and grandchildren now visit.

Many R/Ms were written for widows who wanted to stay in their homes and folks with too much debt and monthly bills.

Others paid grandchildren’s college, gave to church projects, bought homes for children, new cars and long-term health insurance.

I retired in 1995 and during a 30-year career as a financial adviser, speaking in the U.S., England and the Middle East on TV and radio, I never had a program like the R/M to offer my clients. I had never heard of one.

Today, as a senior and an R/M professional adviser, I believe every senior over 62 living in their own home should know the benefits of this program and how it impacts their personal financial needs. There is nothing for sale, as it is a gift from Congress 20 years ago, and my job is to educate seniors, run the numbers and answer questions.

Tom Waite

OTOW

No one’s thinking

of anyone else

In “Gigi,” Gaston takes Arian to Maxim’s for an evening with friends.

Arian is bubbling, charming, sweet and overflowing with emotion because she has a new secret lover in her life.

Gaston is wise to her and sighs, “she is not thinking of me,” and pours a glass of champagne down her bosom.

The U. S. Congress is percolating, bubbling and overflowing with generosity but they are not thinking of us.

It is high time somebody threw a cold beer down their collective bosoms.

This $800 billion dollar stimulus package is a crazy patchwork quilt of every old scheme of every old hack and has-been politician in the Congress. They are not thinking us. Apparently, the words, “job creation,” never crossed their somewhat limited minds.

The Democrats, those big spenders in Congress, are not thinking of us.

They are on a drunken spending spree and it is all about them.

Have you noticed how they keep sending Hillary out of town during all this Congressional Madness?

Just call it “Cirque due Flambé” because our goose is cooked.

Meanwhile, our highly esteemed President is running around the country making speeches like he is still running for office. He predicts total disaster for the entire planet unless he has His way.

Nancy Pelosi gets her fish pond and Harry Reid gets his choo-choo train and the National Endowment for the Arts gets $50 million for Swan Lake — or else it is the end of the world as we know it.

And the Suckers really believe that!

Americans are standing in line at Food Pantries and this $800 billion stimulus package is providing a million dollars for the smelly pig farms in Iowa. For a million dollars they can spray the entire state of Iowa with Chanel Number 5.

It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to figure out that the taxpayers are going to be paying for all those toxic mortgages used to hock the American Dream.

Obama says that the stock market is that thing that just keeps “bobbing up and down” and is of no real importance.

He also tells us that globalization is the solution to our drowning economy despite the fact that globalization sent our jobs and factories to cheap sweat shops overseas.

Obama also says that he likes NAFTA after all, despite his campaign promise to do something about our billion dollar trade deficit.\

Obama is beginning to sound like Joe Biden on one of his good days.

Furthermore, there are 14,000 American troops in Iraq and 40,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

This President, who said he would bring home the troops in 16 months, just sent 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

He also said there will be no more earmarks in his administration.

What do you know, Pinocchio is back in town.

Obama also wants to distract us poor folks from the real issue of the economy with endless debates on stem cell research and education. He is going to see to it that there are more educated people in this country than ever before. Splendid, he can start with the morons in Congress.

The next order of business for the Democrats is to demonize and silence Rush Limbaugh. What a pity. At least he makes us laugh, which is more than you can say for the dreary proclamations coming from the Treasury Dept.

In fact, you can run up and down the halls of the Treasury swinging a dead cat and not hit a thing because nobody is there.

Makes Henry Paulson look like a knight in shining armor.

And why has Paul Volker, the only economist who knows what he is talking about, been entombed in silence?

This billion dollar stimulus package is one big slot machine and the percentage is always with the house.

For the American people it is one big lemon and Americans do not have the wherewithal to make lemonade.

It is said that Obama wants to be Robin Hood and take from the rich and give to the poor.

That makes the Congress the men of Sherwood Forest. Don’t look now,  but the Congress looks lousy in tights.

It just goes to show you that Greed and Corruption can prevail even when it is masquerading as “socialism.”

Helen Bader

Oak Run

Cell phone use

a dangerous thing

DA woman who crashed into a line of stopped vehicles while text-messaging on her cell phone has been sentenced to six years in prison for killing a woman in one of the vehicles.

She knew she could handle driving and texting. Just like you. Do you want to go to prison, too?

Alan Gold

Spruce Creek North

Protect our habitat

before it is too late

I know that there is a fatigue with people not wanting to hear 20 sob stories from third world countries. Now it is coming close to reality in our own country and to the shores of countries nearby.

A lot of it is partly because we don’t know what has preceded these disasters.

In Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, he pointed out the stark difference one can even see from the air: Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island but the DR is green and thriving while Haiti is stark, brown and devastated.

What led to this? Deforestation.

What was the difference?

Both had dictators who wanted to get rich quick but the DR also saw that once the trees were sold, they would need more trees so they implemented a reforestation program.

Why was this important? It is not just the profit from selling the trees; it was the damage that resulted that caused erosion and loss of topsoil. Haiti is the perfect example of what not to do, as they cannot grow their own food.

Watch the weather forecasts and you will hear about their landslides and floods – again because they lost their forest cover and there is no way to restore what they lost.

Haiti, a populace that imports all the cheap farm commodity products from agri-business, which we "donate" (meaning we buy them from agribusiness.)

You have a whole populace that has been herded into squalid shelters where all they do is foment rage and violence to let their grief out.

Adding to the disaster of Haiti’s economy is that Haitians now living in Miami, Ocala or other parts of the U.S. are now victims of unemployment (Over 12% in Ocala,) and cannot afford to send money back to feed their families in Haiti. Due to our economic downturn all donations to charities in Haiti as well as to other poor families in America and the world have dropped drastically to the point where children are the first to feel the effect to the point of starvation and death.

I cringe when I see ads promoting exotic foreign woods — like Brazilian Cherry for flooring.

Simply because people in the west have money to buy these products, doesn’t mean that we should run around the world taking down rainforests and deforesting.

It has long-term consequences and we have got to stop acting like spoiled children who can have what they want and totally ignore others around us.

We create these problems and then wring our hands that there is no short-term fix.

The best thing to come out of the "economic downturn" of western economies is to have a mass awakening to our short-term policies and forget to look at the long-term damage that we have brought upon ourselves.

As our GNP went up, Mother Nature’s "products" have gone down and we have never made the conscious connection. I sincerely hope that we will use this time to change the way we think about our planet and ourselves. This is our earth now and we have to protect our resources and clean up the ravages we have caused.

Bill Marder

Ocala