Eyes wide open… Reflections

Cody Bear

Cody Bear

In the darkest hours of the night, when sleep should prevail, without prejudice, without mercy, questions pour into my head.  I lie awake and I wonder…

Have I lived well enough to make many friends and fewer enemies?

Do I have the courage to cherish my friends and to vanquish my enemies?

Have I spread enough smiles?

Have I shared enough hugs?

Have I planted enough kisses? 

Have I caused enough laughter to earn reciprocity?

Have I studied enough history? 

Have I been engaged enough in current affairs? 

Have I earned a degree in knowledge?

Is knowledge a benefit? 

Is knowledge the revelation of truths, or is knowledge the realizations of falsehoods?

Have I learned from every victory and every folly? 

If so, am I a benefactor; more important, am I a teacher?

Today, in this world that reports the past in real-time; in time to worry for our future; and I only see and images of life, albeit in real-time, can I relate? 

Have I focused long enough on the anguished faces, I cannot truly see?

Have I listened hard enough to the desperate voices, I truly cannot hear? 

Have I seen enough of their pain, I truly cannot feel? 

Have I felt their hunger, I cannot feed? 

Have I shared in their grief, I cannot quell? 

Have I touched enough people?

Has cuddling become a lost art?

If you learn my darkest secret, will you forgive me? 

Will I forgive myself?

Did I stop smoking soon enough to live forever? 

How much double churned ice cream is too much? 

Will I die and when? 

Will it be too soon!  Of course! 

Would I fight for my life to the very end?  

Out of fear?  

Out of courage; for you? 

Will I let go? 

Can I fall away?

Will you miss me if I’m gone? 

Will you miss me when you are alone? 

Will you miss me when you are amongst friends. 

Will you still be laughing and smiling? 

And for how long?  Don’t tell me.

My dog is asleep at my feet. 

He has all the answers. 

He won’t say, but I finally get it.

It’s not about me. 

So now, I can close my eyes…

Living Backwards, Still Moving Forward

Diane Petersmark, with Danny Altenburg and John Whittenhall celebrating the finish of a century ride bikeMS 2010.

My reflections on bikeMS2012:  With quiet courage and conviction, those I meet with MS radiate hope, determination and optimism.  Even afflicted with MS, spiraling their physical selves backwards, their indomitable spirit moves their minds and souls forward.   Their hope gives me hope.  There’s a better world out there.  They inspire me, the ordinary man.  They are moving forward into the hearts and minds of all of us. 

Maybe those of us who clicked in Saturday AM for bikeMS2012, can take away a valuable lesson.  It’s not just about raising money, or the route, or the weather, the wind or the ride, it’s about the challenges in our very ordinary lives of living backwards and still moving forward.  It’s about the challenge of living extraordinary lives, like living with MS.

I’m very proud of our supporters and my Team iDentifi.  Individually, collectively we scorched our goals both as athletes and fundraisers, exceeding $25,000 in contributions.  Thank you!

A Suggestion On How The Government Could Help The Housing Industry

The housing glut has the entire economy in handcuffs!

Here’s a great approach to get the folks who “deserve” the American Dream a chance!  This proposal from Blair Rugh at Trinovus is a government stimulus plan that will work! 

A Suggestion On How The Government Could Help The Housing Industry

by Blair Rugh

I have a suggestion on how government could help the housing industry. I am reasonably confident that neither President Obama, his economic advisors nor members of Congress read this weekly newsletter. But when you write something that has a reasonable circulation you never know where it will wind up, so here goes.

Three facts we know for sure. (1) The U.S. housing market is in the dumper. Some areas are worse than others, but no area has been unaffected. (2) The volume of foreclosures has harmed low- and middle-income borrowers, particularly African- Americans and Hispanics disproportionately. Many of the people foreclosed upon had no significant asset other than their home. (3) The provisions of the Dodd Frank Act relative to underwriting requirements and loans that can be sold in the secondary market, market conditions and enhanced regulator scrutiny and criticism of all lending will make it much more difficult for future borrowers to get a loan. For good, bad or indifferent the actions of the government and the regulators make it significantly more difficult for the housing industry to recover. Until it does, it will be difficult for the economy to recover.

There are a lot of qualified people who still have a job and can afford a reasonable payment on a home but cannot or will not be able to purchase one because they do not have the down payment. In today’s world, for a working class family, it is virtually impossible to save enough for a reasonable down payment. The husband and/or the wife may both have stable jobs and a stable income but saving the $20,000 or $30,000 required to make a down payment that will qualify them for a loan that they can afford is almost out of sight. Today’s housing prices are as low as they have been in the last 10 or 15 years. If we can just get qualified people into the system, it would be a great advantage for them and if we can deplete the nation’s housing inventory at the same time it would be a great boon to an economic recovery.

Let’s lend qualified borrowers a reasonable down payment on a home purchase, say a maximum of $20,000. Were it mine to do, I would make it available only to persons who do not presently own a home. The goal is to deplete the existing housing inventory, which is not accomplished if someone who owns a home is just moving up. Second, I would limit it to homes that were built before a specified date, say June of this year. The purpose of my plan is not to spur new construction directly. That will happen if the existing inventory of vacant housing is depleted. I would not have the federal government do it directly as I am not sure at this point if the federal government can do anything efficiently. I would have the federal government provide block grants to the various states depending on each state’s inventory of vacant homes.

I would grant the homebuyer a loan that would be secured by a junior mortgage on the home. The mortgage would not bear interest in the initial years and then after a reasonable period of time would require interest at some reduced rate. The loan would be payable upon the sale or transfer of the property or at some reasonable time in the future, say 10 years after it was granted. That should provide the homebuyer sufficient time for the housing market to recover its value and to reduce the first mortgage so that refinancing is achievable.

If 100,000 people qualified for the program, the government outlay at the maximum amount of $20,000 per loan would be $2 billion. While that is a lot of money to anyone I know, the federal government seems to treat it as you and I treat pocket change. And more to the point, it is not an expense of that amount as if properly handled the bulk of the money will be eventually repaid. What I suggest has to be refined and better thought out, but I think it is a viable solution to the housing mess. Moreover, it will put qualified people into housing that they can afford. I am generally pretty conservative and against any government assistance programs. I don’t like social security, Medicare, food stamps or anything similar to those programs. I think government should provide everyone an equal opportunity and then let the chips fall where they may. In this instance, however, the government created the problem so I think it takes a government program to hasten the recovery. The purpose of the program is not to provide relief to anyone but to rescue the housing industry. If it has a collateral result of helping people that is even better. I know you can improve on what I suggest. Add your improvements, and if you think it is a good idea make your representative or senator aware of it.

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