Borrowers played big role in housing mess

To the editor:

John L. Smith’s Sunday column points to the absurdity of blaming the banks for certain aspects of the current housing mess.

Many people borrowed the funds from banks to purchase houses, and then, with rising expectations, took out second mortgages to take advantage of “future equity” to purchase other expensive consumables such as new SUVs. When the market contracted and home prices collapsed, some of these same borrowers found it expeditious to default on their loans, leaving the banks with homes that could not be resold at prices that would pay off the balances of the outstanding mortgages.

I have even heard of owners taking appliances and other fixtures from homes they purchased, making the discarded homes even more difficult to re-sell.

Mortgage contracts often include clauses making homeowners responsible for keeping the property in good repair for the life of the mortgage. Many of the former borrowers are still employed. They did the math and decided it was simply easier to walk away than to face their financial responsibilities. They may be the ones who should be held accountable for the condition of homes they dumped on the banks and the community.

Banks may bear some responsibility to clean up the mess, but it makes little sense to vilify them for the actions of irresponsible borrowers.

Erik Stefik

Las Vegas

Horse abuse

To the editor:

Those of us who are fortunate enough to know horses — to truly know them as friends and companions — were sickened by the revelation in Saturday’s Review-Journal that the BLM and ranchers who round up wild horses treat these wonders of nature in a cruel and callous manner. There is never an excuse for whipping a horse in the face. Using an electric cattle prod on a horse is reprehensible.

Horses are prey animals. They live in constant fear that a predator will harm or even eat them. Anything unusual frightens a horse.

But if they are raised gently around humans, and our presence and our mannerisms are not unusual, these magnificent creatures will do anything we ask of them. What other animal allows us to ride on their back, responding to our every cue?

The BLM found that whipping, prodding and other cruel treatment in fact occurred, and that these practices should be modified, but the BLM specifically concluded that this treatment is not inhumane, a term which critics noted has not been defined.

It is the opposite of humane, which literally means to be human, to display qualities of kindness, mercy and compassion.

In other words, the BLM concluded that the savage treatment of these horses met some minimum standard of kindness and compassion. One is compelled to wonder what sort of horrible, painful treatment would be considered inhumane by the BLM.

As to the men who mistreated these horses, they should be herded up by terrifying aliens, caged, whipped in the face and tortured with cattle prods. Then they would have some empathy for the horses they have mistreated.

Al Marquis

Las Vegas

The writer owns Kingston Ranch in Sandy Valley.

Harry’s call

To the editor:

Clark County Manager Don Burnette is surprised only seven people applied for the district attorney opening (Saturday Review-Journal)?

Doesn’t he know that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has three more sons and a daughter who may want that job?

Mr. Burnette just needs to relax while Sen. Reid makes up his mind and places “the call,” as he did in with Henderson’s city attorney vacancy.

Richard Laird

Las Vegas

Victims of politics

To the editor:

Powerful people want you to believe that every national organization that compiles statistics on education is conspiring to artificially rank Nevada’s per-pupil funding among the lowest in the United States because they just don’t like our state.

Children are the victims of power politics that have left reasonable people powerless to overcome the tyranny of the minority: one-third of our legislators and the lobbyists hired to keep mining taxes at one-tenth the rate of casino taxes and make sure out-of-state corporations paying nothing.

In the face of these inadequate resources, the leadership of the Clark County School District has decided that there are only two options: cut teacher pay or lay off teachers and increase the largest class sizes in the nation. Apparently the three area service centers and 13 performance zones are more important to educating children than the teachers in the classroom.

Influential institutions like to claim that our public schools are failures, and individuals claim that teaching has become more a cushy government job than a calling. I didn’t realize I would become the target of ideologues and that there would be people who would hate me because I was paid with tax dollars.

Last school year, my daughter asked, “Daddy, why do you work so much?” Hard choices have to be made when you want to be a good teacher and a good father.

It was my first year teaching AP Calculus. I had 29 students take the exam, and 82.7 percent passed. That’s seven more taking the test and 17 more passing than ever before at my school. The average pass rate for the world was 55.9 percent. I got our results on July 6, and few days later, I got my reward: a pay cut.

At the end of the day, each of us adds something to our community or takes something away.

Jeremy M. Christensen

Las Vegas

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