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April 4th, 2012 BEN WATERHOUSE | News Stories
 

Moralists Be Damned

The banks want to keep you hungry and poor. Don’t let them.

lede_1_debt_3822ILLUSTRATION: Will Bryant
If you want to get rich in America, all you have to do, they say, is tighten your belt, put your nose to the grindstone and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. That sounds great—in a folksy, old-rich-guy way—but if you actually try to do it, you might well wind up tipping over and having your face ground off. The fact of the matter is, if you want to get the boot of the 1 percent off your back, you have to work the angles. Here’s how.


Get Food Stamps

Newt Gingrich and his Neanderthal fans have branded Obama “the food-stamp president,” as if that were a bad thing. Food stamps, they imply, are a handout to the lazy that takes food out of the mouths of the more deserving. They couldn’t be more wrong. If you work full time at Oregon minimum wage, have less than $2,000 in the bank and live alone, you probably qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and you should take advantage of it. Don’t worry about freeloading: According to a 2008 study by Moody’s Analytics, food stamps are the single most effective form of government stimulus. Zandi found that every extra dollar spent on food stamps adds $1.73 to the economy. (Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack cited an even higher $1.84 per dollar spent in a 2011 interview.) So when you use food stamps, you’re doing all of us a favor. Check out oregonhelps.org to find out if you qualify.


Walk Away From Your House

If you own a house that is worth less than you owe on your mortgage, you are, in industry parlance, “underwater.” In real-world terms, that means you are unlikely to recoup your investment in the property. You are, essentially, renting from the bank. If your mortgage is more than you’d spend on rent on a comparable property, you’re throwing money away. If you find yourself in this situation, call your lenders and ask them to agree to a short sale—that is, to let you sell the home for less than the amount you owe and write off the difference. If they won’t agree, choose strategic default: Stop paying and let the bastards foreclose. You have no more moral obligation to pay your mortgage than corporations do, and you won’t put the bank out of business by walking away. They knew default was a risk when they made the loan. Look out for your own interest first. Visit youwalkaway.com to find out if strategic default is the right decision for you.  

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