Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mobile Posting Works!

Just installed a program that let's me post from my iPhone called lifecast. It was a free program and works like a charm! Maybe I'll post more consistently now:)

Posted with LifeCast

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is the Housing Bill the Answer?

Today President Bush signed the emergency housing bill to law. This bill provides for the support of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which insures about half of the nation's mortgages. It also comes in the week where we have just passed a record deficit budget. I cannot but help but wonder if we are in for further hard times. As usual the poor will suffer greatly. The New York Times reports:
The law authorizes the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to the $300 billion in such loans but the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that only $68 billion of that authority is likely to be used. The original lenders will have to pay upfront fees into an insurance fund, and borrowers will pay on-going insurance premiums of 1.5 percent a year to insulate taxpayers against losses from defaults.

The budget office has estimated that 35 percent of the refinanced loans will end up in trouble again.

Did I read that right? Has the congressional budget office really predicted a 35% failure rate in REFINANCED loans? I'm not sure what do do with that...

I'm mixed on this bill. I feel pain for my friends and neighbors who are losing their homes. NCUD is having many intense conversations about what we can and should do.  But our efforts will very much be funded by private donors and foundations. On the other hand, the economy and housing market cannot suffer the failure of Fannie and Freddie. But can we continue to afford a $500 billion deficit? If we the taxpayer are asked to continue to bail out the mortgage industry - how high will that deficit go? When inflation starts to kick in, and the jobless rate goes up (both of which are happening right now) where will we be? 

The article goes on to say:
Some experts have said that the law is wrong-headed in its attempt to retain the hybrid nature of the mortgage finance giants, which are private companies with publicly traded stock, but which have an explicit guarantee of help from the government - an arrangement that critics say privatizes the profits but socializes the risk and any losses.

David M. Walker, the former comptroller general of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office who is now president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said that Bush might have been unwise to sign the measure.

"Providing authority to the secretary of the Treasury to extend credit or to buy stock is one that will end up costing the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars," Walker said in an interview earlier this week.

Walker noted that other government interventions in the private market, including a rescue of the Chrysler automobile company had provided an opportunity for taxpayers to profit. But when it comes to the mortgage giants, he said, there is no upside.

"The way this is structured," he said. "It's only a matter of how much the taxpayers are going to lose."

Supporters of the legislation - including Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, the leaders of the banking committee, and Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, the main author of the legislation in the House - say the law represents the best way to help stabilize the housing market, potentially putting a solid floor under declining prices.

To be sure, there are no easy answers. This is one of the most scary, interesting and unique financial climates I've seen in my lifetime. I've said it many times before. I believe the answers to the world's condition rests with the creativity, expertise and spiritual authority that Christ instilled in His people. 

What do you think? How are you feeling about the economy? What should the Church's response be? 

Update on Dr. John Perkins

From Elizabeth Perkins (Dr. Perkins' daughter)
"Thank you for your prayers and support during this time. Daddy came through the surgery very well. He is in great spirits and beginning his recovery. He has been resting and managing his pain and discomfort.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support. We will keep you posted.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Praying for Dr. John Perkins

Dr. John Perkins, the founder of the Christian Community Development Association is having stomach surgery today at 2:00. Dr. Perkins is a spiritual father and mentor to many of us. Please hold him up in your prayers today and for his speedy recovery.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What I'm doing these days...

Two words: GOLF TOURNAMENT at Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore, CA. This is NCUD's biggest event for the year. We're only one week away, the tournament is next Friday, the 18th. 

We're still looking for some golfers and sponsors. If you're interested, please let me know. 

For more information you can check out our website: here. 

This year we have some wonderful major sponsors including Community Trust Credit Union, Woodruff Sawyer, Paul Hastings LLP, DLA Piper LLP, Plant A Seed Foundation and Highway Community. 

Our friends at Miner Family Vineyards in Napa Valley has really stepped up to the plate. They will be doing wine tasting on the course along with the wonderful wines from Spring Mountain Vineyards. 

Please be sure to recognize and support our sponsors. 

That said, my blogging will be somewhat limited until after next Friday. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Politics - Some Newt Wisdom

Those of you who know me or read this blog often will hopefully see my political stance - which I classify as a center to left leaning independent. I'm concerned about the poor and justice issues - but also value self determination and enterprise. Honestly - most of the time both parties frustrate me and confirm my aversion to party politics. 

However, when someone speaks logically about a subject I have to take notice. While not a huge fan of his, I ran across this video on You Tube where Newt Gingrich lays out a three pronged approach to current energy crisis including releasing funds from the strategic petroleum reserve, drilling and using domestic oil and aggressively pursuing alternative fuel sources.

I like most folks hate paying almost $5.00 a gallon for gas - but in many ways we have caused our own problems by poor choices of automobiles, illogical environmental policies and a lack of aggressive alternative research (that arguably has been blocked by oil and auto companies). 

However, we need to move forward logically while caring for the environment. As with most things - the extremes usually miss the point and the correct path requires some compromises - from all parties.

Check out Newt's thoughts. How would you respond?