Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Horror Special IX: Fed the Impaler, or, "I Never Drink . . . Wine"

It's something of a record. To date, there have been nearly 200 film versions of Bram Stoker's Dracula, more flicks than any other single cinematic source. In distant second are the various adaptations of Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, with a nod toward (and a clean set of heels away from) the notorious Countess Elizabeth Báthory, the "Blood Countess." Of interest to very few people is that both of the fictional vampires were the creations of Irish writers.

The original, "real" Dracula legend also has a tie-in with Ireland. It seems that Edward IV's favorite sociopath, John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, "the Butcher of England," as Lord Deputy of Ireland brought his favorite methods of execution (beheading, quartering and, especially, impalement) with him in furtherance of his duties in 1467. Tiptoft entered legend himself by encompassing the deaths of the popular earl of Desmond and his two sons — one too young to know what was going on — on trumped-up charges of treason.

It seems that Tiptoft, one of the most brilliant scholars of his day (who says a genius can't be a psychotic?), collected early printed books (incunabula) . . . of which the anti-Vlad propaganda pamphlets issued by the German settlers in Wallachia (from which much of the Dracula legend derives) comprise a significant proportion. The Vlad in question, of course, was Vlad III Tepes, Voivode (Prince) of Wallachia, "Vlad the Impaler," usually given the title borne by his father: Dracula. We won't get into the issue of whether Vlad was framed by his enemies, or whether Humpty Dumpty was pushed.

So much for the Halloween Horror aspect of today's posting. How are we going to work in the eponymous "Fed the Impaler" shtick? (BTW — looking up "eponymous" will get you something similar to what looking up "lascivious adulterer" ["Don't call me that until I find out what it means!"] got the Peter Sellers character in What's New, Pussycat? — "a man who is a lascivious adulterer.")

Nothing easier. Just as Tiptoft, the 15th century Irish power-that-was, copied the worst possible model for politics (the Dracula legend/propaganda), the current Irish leadership is copying the worst possible model for economics: Keynes, and American efforts based on post-Keynesian prescriptions. Nowhere is this more evident than in the housing crisis afflicting both countries.

Only a short time ago the "experts" in both countries were loudly proclaiming that the problem was all over except for the remaining bailouts, subsidies, stimuli, and increased government debt. No problem. The Great Recession is over; there will be no double dip. (Of course not. You can't double up when you're still in a single.) Then the next round of financial crises started. Don't worry, though. The plan that worked so well before will work again: spend more money that you haven't got to rescue the gamblers and leave the poor schmoes who over-bought or under-paid based on the rosy colored prognostications of those same experts hanging out to dry.

Fear not. There really is a potentially viable, natural law-based solution that has been developed. It is a possibility with which both countries — or any country, for that matter — can experiment. You've seen it mentioned once or twice on this blog already, so (like yet another Dracula remake — do I hear cries of, "Blah, blah!"?) prepare to see something you've seen before, and even managed to work in its component parts. It just hasn't been put all together into an integrated system. Yet.

And, yes, we know we keep pushing the basic idea. That's only because the powers-that-be keep pushing programs and principles that have been shown time and again not to work. Why, then, should we let up on something that actually has a track record of sorts, even if limited? Why dismiss something that has been shown to work, and keep hitting us over the head with something that has a perfect record — of failure?

We refer, of course, to the "Homeowners Equity Corporation," or "HEC." (We know it would be more in keeping with the theme of this series and the season to call it a "HELL," or "Homeowners Evil Liability Liquidation," but from yesterday's posting you know of our success with trying to force an acronym.)

(Don't you just love all these parentheticals?)

Briefly — for we have to get back to our coffins before the first ray of sunlight embiggens the dawn — the HEC would be a for-profit stock corporation that purchases foreclosed residential properties in a local community, and through a "lease-to-equity" arrangement would enable homeowners facing foreclosure to: 1) remain in their residence, 2) pay off the market cost of the residence, and 3) build up equity as shareholders of the HEC.

The HEC would allow citizens to escape from the worst form of credit (loans for consumer goods that don't pay for themselves and are made to people who can't repay the loans) to the best form of credit (loans to purchase capital assets that pay for themselves and that turn non-owners into owners of income-producing assets). The HEC concept is based on a new monetary and tax approach that promotes the financing of private sector capital formation in ways that create new owners of that growth and thereby spread purchasing power throughout the economy.

One of the key characteristics of the Homeowners' Equity Corporation idea is that it minimizes risks of the resident-shareholder foreclosing on the home mortgage by acting as a form of capital credit "insurance," through pooling of risk. There will always be a certain percentage of homes that are unoccupied for a time, but the shareholder's equity will be based on a HEC's value per share, based in turn on the aggregate value of all homes owned by a HEC, not the value of the home occupied. Also, a HEC's value per share will depend in part on the occupancy rate of all homes, as will the payments on the loans used by the HEC to acquire the homes. It is obviously much easier to make payments on 100 houses, of which 90 are occupied and generating rent payments, than on a single house with no rent payments coming in.

The HEC would also provide a means for those who cannot afford monthly lease payments on their home, to participate in the lease-to-equity program. Vouchers linked to need (for a specified amount of time) could be provided. (For example, 25% of a HEC resident-shareholder's income would go to cover housing leases. The amount of the voucher to supplement this would be the difference between the homeowner's total income and the monthly lease payments. To protect against people playing the system, there might need to be a limit on how much of a voucher someone could receive and for how long they could receive a voucher to remain in a particular residence owned by the HEC.)

Ireland would be the perfect place to experiment with the HEC. The concept of public housing is well entrenched. It would be a small leap for people to accept ownership by the public instead of public ownership. This is especially true since the "feel" of the arrangement, while based on individual private ownership, is more communitarian than most private ownership and has a superficial resemblance to a standard rental arrangement — but one from which you can walk away with the value of the equity you've built up, rather than a pile of rent receipts.

The alternative? Continue to let outdated financial technologies and disproved economic dogma exsanguinate the economy and fail to bring the HEC and other Just Third Way programs to the attention of prime movers and potential door openers.

It's your choice.

#30#

1 comment:

nail-in-the-wall said...

Count them, one plus one, equals two. Two good reasons to view "Count Dracula" from Sesame Street. HERE

Even numbers put the truth with Mortimer Adler in "Capitalism or Socialism you decide?" HERE

"Pass the Wine and Cheese please,.. this Mouse is a little thirsty."