Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wells Fargo Clown School!

Never has anyone been more discontented or sick to their stomach than I have been over the last few days. Unfortunately I really have no one to blame for this situation but myself. After litigating away millions of dollars after my accident in order to settle for a measly $115,000 I instantly decide to reward myself with a brand new car. The way I figured it I had been to death and back and I deserved it.

My accident caused my house to be foreclosed on and as a result my credit was destroyed.

My current situation leaves only myself to blame though. Had I just been content with my current situation I would have been able to purchase my condo with cash. Not getting the banks involved would have been huge! Instead I spent $30,000 on a car. I never thought that I was going to own property again. I didn’t care about my fucked credit because I had the cash to get by until it was restored. An opportunity to nearly own a place to live in at the tender age of 30 could not be passed up though.

I initially tried to take a secured loan against the title on my car. Most banks will offer 150% of the value of your car. I thought with 80% equity in the house and a secured loan against my vehicle that this would not be a big deal. It turns out that I was sorely mistaken.

Next I contacted a loan agent that thought he might be able to figure out a work around. Of course being a loan agent (That is one step above a criminal defense lawyer on the ethics scale) he decided that he had good grounds to take advantage of me. He wanted to charge 2 points ($2000) to underwrite the loan and a 10% interest rate. I may be desperate but I am not an idiot.

All of this took place before I had even found a property. Then it happened. I found the perfect property. I submitted an offer and it was accepted. The amount agreed on was a strange number indeed. It was the exact number that I would have had, had I just sat on my money. But Nooooooo! I had to have a new car. My jeep ran just fine and it was a lot of fun. It even had A/C. I loved that jeep. But I was going through a difficult time and I just felt that I needed to spoil myself with a new car.

I found a real estate agent and submitted to him a list of properties that I wanted to look at. Five days later he had still not taken action to get me out looking at any properties. This is a turning point in the housing market and it is a time when action is necessary to take advantage of the immense amount of bargains in the market. I promptly fired this agent and hired a new one.

A week later Wells Fargo bank called and said that the power of the loan was offset. The problem that this presented is that anytime you transfer an amount of money over $20,000 the government imposes a gift tax. That means that at the end of the year I would be forced to pay a tax on an additional $60,000 over my current income level.

After getting the bank to agree that the money could pre-emptively be placed in an escrow account without filtering it I thought we were good to go. Then the bank came back and said that due to new regulations that my name could not be on the loan or the title at all. This was a pain but a work around was easy. After the close of escrow it would cost $50 to go down to the recording office and have my name added back onto the title. Once again Wells Fargo claimed to be O.K. with this.

Next Wells Fargo said that they wanted us to purchase a flood insurance policy. So we did. This wasn’t enough for them though. After further review they came back and said that the HOA needed to purchase a stronger flood policy for the exterior flood insurance. The thing about flood insurance is that it is federally regulated. The irony here is that a bank (Wells Fargo) is telling the holder of a federally mandated policy that the policy is not sufficient enough for them to carry the loan. Furthermore getting an HOA to do anything is generally equivalent to hitting your head against a brick wall.

After much deliberation Wells Fargo has claimed that they could move forward with the loan if the insurance company can break down their blanket policy for the entire complex to show how much of the insurance is covering the individual building in which the unit that I wish to purchase resides. The problem is that the insurance company only writes the policy the way that it is already written. In the event of a catastrophic event, anything with letterhead that they had sent to the bank promising coverage would be legally binding. It could send both companies into years of litigation. What has ensued is a good old fashion Mexican standoff between the bank and the HOAs insurance company that has trapped my money in the middle, ultimately holding all of us hostage.

I was scheduled to move out of my apartment the day after closing so as of right now my girlfriend and I are squatting. Being as the day of closing was the Friday before a three day weekend there can be no resolution until the end of next week. Everything is up in the air. In the meantime our utilities are powered off, and we have no internet connection. I have to go down to the corner coffee shop by my apartment just so I can use the Wi-Fi to do my work. Thankfully I have an iphone, so I can still check my email!

The agents at Wells Fargo have been absolute clowns and the insurance agents could care less. I have exhausted every option to take Wells Fargo out of the equation. If nothing else they have certainly lost my business for the rest of my life. Had it not been for my amazing real estate agent I think I would have clearly lost my mind by now.

As it stands, everything is up in the air. I am technically the only homeless guy in the state with 80k in the bank. I am living out of a box and I am traveling for work on the weekdays which further ties my hands. My next step is to start over with a new loan agent or hire a real estate lawyer to litigate against any parties that have held up the process through their negligence. Unfortunately all of the above options do nothing but add more stress than I can handle to an already delicate situation.

I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On God and Gasoline!

I am not shocked at high gas prices but I am delighted. Finally for the first time in over 30 years, the price that our nation is paying for gas is more on par with the rest of the world. Energy cost and especially gas prices have intentionally been kept low by our government. If you look at the economies of other countries you will see that the high price for fuel has fostered an economy where people use more public transportation and seek work closer to where they live. The increased traffic on public transportation creates more money and need for public transportation. This results in more need to build and more jobs in the construction sector.

Oil production is estimated to peak in 2020. As oil production follows the path of a bell curve, this would under normal circumstances allow us roughly 150+ years of oil after this date. Unfortunately with the increased population and heavily increased demand, scientist estimate that after our peak we will roughly have 60 years before our world oil supply is completely depleted. This means that if we keep going at our current rate that the worlds supply of oil will be gone around 2080. Link

Countries that have maintained high energy prices have helped to curb consumption. Let’s face it, the only way to get people to conserve anything is to slap them in the pocket book. If something starts costing someone so much that they actually make life changes regarding its usage then you have made a measurable change in behavior. Link

All of the doomsday theorist, claim that high oil prices will send our economy into a downward spiral. While there will be some “restructuring” in our society and while some people will get “lost” in the mix, (mainly those not crafty enough to make the appropriate changes to their lifestyle) high energy cost will have the incredibly long term benefit of world energy conservation. High energy cost would also foster research for alternative energy sources. You would see more people on foot, bicycles, public transportation, or in energy efficient vehicles. Less expendable income would mean less traffic on our roadways and less leisure time for those that cannot readjust to the changing economic environment. This translates into a cleaner and less crowded social environment, open roadways, less waste on gas guzzling vehicles and even has implications for population control.

I realize that there are downsides to these ideas. As with any social restructuring, people will get lost in the fray. I understand that many people view it as unfair that these oil tycoons are making such massive amounts of money at your expense but there is one thing that needs to be understood. They made a decision to go into a difficult business with a high demand. They are reaping the benefits of their decision. You made a decision to buy a house with a 70 mile commute to work and buy a gas guzzling S.U.V. that gets 10 miles per gallon. You are reaping the benefits of your decision.

I am ready for gas to hit $8 a gallon. At the current price there has been little change in driving habits. Mostly we have just seen a lot of complaining about the pricing structure. I see lots of complaining but no habit changes. This is pretty typical of our American culture. This is a remnant of religious indoctrination in our culture and I am laughing now because it is slapping you. I will not be happy until I see prices that force a change in behavior. I will not be happy until Americans realize the need for change!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Living on a prayer

I was thinking a while back about how the integration of religious beliefs tend to create a sense of complacency in our population. It sets up an ideal of how one should act and what one should believe in our society in order to be deemed a normal person. An ex of mine used to drone on and on about women’s rights. Now before I go on, let me just say that I am for equal human rights. Not just women, but all people. So needless to say I supported her 100%. She would make statements though about how a man being the financial income earner and supporting the woman was an oppressive role.

The problem here was that I was the only income earner in the relationship and was supporting her financially while she went through college. So while I was busting my ass to make sure she had the small things like a place to live, food and clothing, she was busy looking at me as if though I were a slave owner. I can only imagine though that if these things really mattered to her, the way that she verbally stated that they mattered to her, then she would have situated her life in such a way that she would never have to be financially dependent on another human being. Now that might mean putting in grueling long days because you have to go to school for 8 hours then work for 8 hours, but that is the sacrifice that you must make if that is the life that you really want. If school was just as important as financial independence to her then she should have been willing to work for it.

Of course it is always much easier to complain that to stand up and take action.

This is why Christians pray!

Prayer is a way to take responsibility off of one’s self. Instead of taking the steps to restructure your life and make necessary changes, one can simply say “well, I have been praying about it and I am waiting on god for an answer.”

It is because of all of the restrictions in our society that people have become out of touch with what they are or really want to be. Let’s take for example smoking. Very recently in our society smoking has been deemed to be a very bad thing. I think the research has been conclusive that as far as your health is concerned that this is very true. Each person of course has the right to decide still whether or not they want to put this unhealthy thing in their bodies. It has gotten to the point now, were if you are a smoker people start to look at you as if though you are a really bad person. The result is a large group of people that are “trying to quit.” Many of these people actually have no intention of quitting. They feel the societal pressure, that quitting is the right thing to do. It becomes impossible just to own up to the fact that they enjoy smoking and do not want to quit.

The fact is that from aside from a physiological addiction quitting a habit is as simple as ceasing the behavior. The ability to do this is one of the main things that set us apart from the other creatures that inhabit our planet. Our society and our religions wants to take that responsibility away from us. They want to tell us that we are weak and powerless. This is another system of built in control. They want us to believe that we can’t stop doing what we don’t want to do without their help and their products.

Of course the only way that we can change our behavior is through a simple two step process

#1 You have to really want to change the behavior
#2 You have stop doing the behavior

Does this mean that you won’t have impulses? Of course not but you won’t have the behavior because you won’t take action on it.

I have used this method several times in my own life with great success. I wanted to quit eating high sugar foods. I stopped buying high sugar foods and put myself in a minimal amount of situations where I would be tempted to do so. When I was in a situation like this I would make a conscious effort to not partake. If I did partake it was because I decided that I wanted to, not because I slipped up. Got it? Do you understand what I am getting at?

We are not powerless! We do not have to rely on the government, religion, god, or Jenny Craig to help us with our maladies. All it takes is a little bit of self awareness and a little bit of self control. Most importantly it takes an honest decision from yourself that you would like to be different than you are now.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

All Apologies

My life has just been so crazy lately that I have not been able to find to post. I have some topics in the works and plan to be a regular at blogspot once again. Thanks to everyone who has stuck by me and supported my efforts over the last two years. I will be reconnecting with all of you very soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We are all special?

I was thinking about the utter contempt for others that I had and the sense of arrogance and self righteousness that was ingrained in me during the days of my indoctrination into the Christian religion. I believe that this sense of being “special,” taken to the extreme can be a truly devastating thing. Then I realized that my gut instinct was backed by history.

I just finished watching a 6 hour documentary on the Nazis and how they were allowed to come to power and rule. They convinced an entire population of people to accept horrible atrocities not only by claiming that their enemies were sub-human but also by suggestion to the Germans that the German race was super-human, or in other terms special. Now I am not here to break out the Hitler argument as it is most often a fallacy. There is something to this though.

Christians are taught they are special. Christians are taught that they are better than non-Christians and that they have more benefits than non-Christians. The major benefit in their mind is that they believe that when they die they will go to an eternal paradise while non-believers will burn in hell. On the surface it would seem that this belief would encourage them to kindly convert non-believers and in general this is what they appear to attempt to do. It is, of course, only a matter of time before human nature takes over and the feeling of superiority kicks in. If “Christians are special” then why shouldn’t they deserve better than others?

We have seen this throughout history with all different sorts of ideologies that teach a particular group that they are better than another group. This way of thinking certainly serves its purpose in a society. Yet it is another inconsistency in the Christian ideology that for some reason Christians do not seem to be able to see. This is why Christians love to teach the virtues of “Blind Faith. “ Not only is blind faith an effective method for keeping a population in an un-questioning state of mind, but it is much easier for a population to grasp and manage, as opposed to doing their own research and making up their own minds.

The fact of the matter is that none of us are special. If we are, it is a relative issue. I am generally not one to take the stance of moral relativism but playing the devil’s advocate in this situation is hard to do. One of the most popular arguments against a moral relativist is to show him a picture of his family and say that you are going to kill them. Then when the relativist objects you make the argument that he can’t say whether or not it is an evil thing because it is relative. The problem with this argument is that it is evil to him. He believes his family to be special even if no one else in the world does. He believes that it is evil to kill them. So he will have to act to protect them. Show him a picture of a different family and he may not care at all. So this argument seems to support relativism not argue it.

Just think about this for a second. You are driving down the highway and you hit a traffic jam. For whatever reason you believe yourself to be special. For whatever reason you believe yourself to be above all of these other losers on the road. You should not have to sit in this traffic jam. There should be a special lane for you. Why are all of these people so stupid? You have it all figured out. If everyone would just "go" then you wouldn’t have to sit here. You are important! You have things to do. You are getting angry, impatient, flustered.

But what if you were in the same situation and you were not special. Now you are simply stuck in a situation that has no real meaning. You are in the company of hundreds of other people, just like you, stuck in the same situation as you. You might as well relax and wait for things to open up. It is no big deal. There is no entitlement. When you look at the world around you, you realize that you are no better than anyone else. You are just living your life the best you know how and you will eventually cease to be, just like everyone else.

I suppose what I am trying to get across here is that the feeling of superiority, while not found only in religion, is something that does, in fact, make religious organizations dangerous. Of course it is only one of many things.

Treat each other well!