[This is the addended and linked transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 30 September 2011]
It looks like we’re entering into the season of rights again. Wisconsin judge Patrick Fiedler has informed the nation that we don’t have and never had any rights to either our cows, our crops, or our gardens, and that we may enjoy their benefits only to the extent that the government permits. Meanwhile, here in California we are again leading the world in the discovery of a new “fundamental human right”, that being home ownership – everyone has a right to their own home.
Ladies and gentlemen, none of this is made up or hyperbole. I am talking about the Foreclosure Modification Act, which California voters will see on their ballots as another initiative in November 2012. The act will essentially prohibit the lender from foreclosing on a house that is the contracted collateral for the mortgage on the house.
Specifically, one of the purposes of the act is to “prevent the loss of one's personal home property by foreclosure or other means due to hardship or illness or other calamity.” Under “other calamity” we find such things as tanking of the real estate market, or interest rate hikes that affect adjustable rate mortgages. With this new right under our belts, we get to stiff the lender if the market value of our house goes ‘under water’, or we simply can’t come up with the monthly mortgage. The lender cannot kick us out of our house and must renegotiate the loan to make it compatible with our new financial situation. It will be one of our rights.
This kind of rights creep has been going on for the last several decades. Things we naturally thought were our rights, such as property ownership, have been whittled away to effectively government permitted custodianship or simply criminalized. And then new rights have been bestowed on us which we never expected to be called rights – like the right to safe hiking trails or nationalized healthcare - which, when enforced, almost always reduce our ability to enjoy what the right is supposed to promote. You can form your own estimate of what will happen to California’s housing market if we pass the Foreclosure Modification Act.