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My Rage: Bernanke and Borrowers' Principal/Principle

Wednesday, 5 Mar 2008 | 2:38 PM ET
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007, before the Senate Banking Committee hearing on monetary policy. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
Dennis Cook
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007, before the Senate Banking Committee hearing on monetary policy. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

I’m enraged. Yep. And I get to be enraged, because this is a blog, which is where I get to move away from being an unbiased reporter for a few moments each morning and offer an opinion.

Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a speech to bankers in Orlando, Fla., said that the best way out of the foreclosure mess is not to modify all these delinquent loans but to actually reduce the principal. He reasons that all these folks with negative equity in their homes have no reason to keep paying mortgages.

“In this environment, principal reductions that restore some equity for the homeowner may be a relatively more effective means of avoiding delinquency and foreclosure than reducing the interest rate,” said Mr. Bernanke.

Here goes: What kind of principle is that?? Is he actually saying that we need to give borrowers some incentive to stay in their homes, the homes that they signed on the dotted line to pay for?? Are we to reward thousands of borrowers for making bad business decisions, taking on far too much risk and not reading the fine print of their biggest investment?

You know, I bought a really expensive suit last summer that doesn’t fit me right anymore. Perhaps Mr. Bernanke can call Saks and have them refund my money because I ate too many Cheetos last fall!

I understand that federal officials are looking at a rather desperate situation in the economy, and in order to stave off a recession, they need to fix that nasty foreclosure issue fast.

It’s a mess, no question, and all the “Hope Now” initiatives in the world aren’t going to fix everything -- but let’s not forget the fact that people need to learn from their mistakes, not be rewarded for them.

America’s borrowers are not children, and Mommy and Daddy Government shouldn’t be paying the candy store back for the Snickers bars so many borrowers snatched, never really intending to pay for.

Let the market correct. Let home prices fall back to a level where good hard-working people can afford nice comfortable places to live. No pain, no gain.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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