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Archive for May, 2014

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has been making the rounds talking about her new book, “A Fighting Chance.”

The book speaks to her struggle for consumer financial reform and the financial institutions that put profits over people.

So, it’s quite understandable that inevitably the talk would center on The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Student Loan Program, and an economic system that’s rigged to work for those who already have money and power.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

CFPB is Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild. She proposed, created, and built it from scratch. She has been a longtime advocate of consumer protections, so it’s expected that CFPB would be a big part of the discussion.

This is what she said: “Remember where we were just four short years ago. There was no agency out there to prevent the biggest financial institutions from cheating people on credit cards, on mortgages. Remember the banks said we will kill that agency in financial reform. They were spending more than a million dollars a day lobbying against financial reform. But remember we won, and here’s the thing, not only did we win we got an agency. In the short time it’s been alive there has already been more than three billion dollars put back into the pockets of families who got cheated on mortgages and credit cards. Now the next time someone tells me we can’t change anything, I have four words for them Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

The Federal Student Loan Program

Senator Warren staunchly opposes exorbitant student loan interest rates. She says, “Kids who can’t afford to go to college, their parents can’t afford to just write a check, so they have to borrow money. The United States government says we will lend you the money to go to school. Okay that’s a good thing to do … and then piles onto the interest rates so that the government makes tens of billions of dollars in profits off the backs of kids trying to get an education.”

The game is rigged to work for those who already have money and power

Senator Warren says, “The problem we have in this country, and we’ve had for a long time, is that Washington works for those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. If you’re a huge corporation, if you’re a billionaire, boy, your voice gets heard in [Washington] and what you want gets attended to. For the ordinary family, it just doesn’t work so well.

She says, “It really is a rigged game, and it’s set up over and over and over that the rich get richer and the powerful more powerful. They’ve got all the advantages of concentrated money and concentrated power.

In 2009, Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election to replace Senator Ted Kennedy, but lost his bid for a second term to Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren is all she promised to be, an ideal replacement for Senator Kennedy. Like Kennedy, she is consistent on the issues that affect the middle-class, she is straightforward and what you see is what you get.

It is widely viewed that she may run for President in 2016. But my hope is that she does not run. She is of more value and can get more things accomplished for America as Senator than she could ever accomplish as President.

 

 

 

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Melikhovo_Cottage cropped The burst of the housing bubble was a primary contributor to the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008. Many people found themselves unemployed, forced into foreclosure, or unable to pay their rent. The era of supersized lifestyles and large homes ended and people affected by the crisis scrambled to downsize or find alternate housing.

As a result, the small or tiny house movement came into being. It has garnered media attention: ten one-hour episodes of Tiny House Nation will air in July 2014.

The major selling points of the movement are low cost to purchase or build a home, ease of building your own home, living simply and inexpensively through greater efficiency, and reduction ofoperating costs in home ownership.

However, there are obstacles to building your own small or tiny house.

There are zoning laws, safety, and sanitation regulations that cannot be avoided

Unlike rural areas, zoning laws in urban and suburban areas can be a significant obstacle. For example, in my town, to build a home you must have a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet (almost an acre), and there are size regulations for the house itself.

Here is a summary of safety and sanitation codes in my state of Massachusetts. In other parts of the country, except, perhaps, in rural areas, you will find similar standards.

The cost of land will add significant cost to the purchase your tiny house

A Tiny House costs from $10,000 to $80,000. But, where I live, an acre of land cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are other costs. For example a septic system, acquiring and connecting a safe water supply, electrical hookups, and property taxes.

You may have difficulty obtaining a mortgage for your tiny house

The Tiny House Blog reports that finding a mortgage for under $100,000 may be difficult.
Many lenders will not consider small loans because of lower-valued collateral and difficulty in reselling a home in the case of foreclosure; the tiny house market represents only one percent of all real estate transactions, and so lenders are not convinced a tiny house will retain or build equity.

Some people with pristine credit may be able to acquire an unsecured loan, however it’s always desirable to obtain a mortgage because interest rates are tax deductible and mortgages offer longer terms and lower interest rates.

Therefore, a tiny house may not be as economical as proponents envision. It may be cost-effective if you build in rural areas but to build in urban or suburban areas may cost $200,000 or more. It perhaps even may be impossible to build in some areas.

Although a tiny house may be a satisfactory lifestyle for some, it’s not a viable long-term solution for those who enjoy entertaining or plan to raise a family in the future.

 

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