The Baltimore Sun

Lenders' greed now hurts homeowners

All the talk about subprime mortgage markets causing losses for banks, markets and investors worldwide has given little attention to the root of the problem: Many of the lenders and investors got too greedy ("Fallout from U.S. rattles world markets," Aug. 10).

Some of those defaulting on home loans may be guilty of borrowing too much or of misrepresenting their ability to pay. But for many of us the unjustified ballooning of our interest rates is the real root of the problem.

An adjustable interest rate mortgage that adjusts up from 6 percent or 8 percent to 14 percent in a few years will force even a careful, honest borrower over a cliff.

My refinanced home loan payment was at first only $485 a month and easily affordable. But after three years and a few adjustments, the interest rate had grown to 14 percent and the payment had doubled.

Many hardworking consumers have been duped and put out of their homes because of the greed in this industry.

Subprime lending practices have allowed lenders to get greedy for larger and faster returns and to extract huge short-term profits with inflated interest rates.

However, over the long-term, these usurious interest rates have proved to be bad business practices which have caused untold hardships for millions of Americans.

Greg Satorie


No slogan will stop trashing of the city

Mayor Sheila Dixon's plan to spend $2 million to fight litter with ads is a complete waste of time ("$2 million ad campaign to take aim at litterbugs," Aug. 8).

I agree with her that the city's trash problem causes a lack of pride in the city. But to think TV, radio and billboard ads will clean up the city is a pipe dream. This money would be better spent enforcing our trash laws and paying clean-up crews in areas of the city other than downtown.

I live in the Gwynns Falls community, and this area hasn't seen a street-sweeper in years.

And my efforts to keep the trash picked up are like fighting a losing battle.

Some residents put their trash on the street days before the scheduled pick-up. And only about 10 percent of this area's residents even use a trash can.

I have become totally disgusted with the appearance of my community in recent years and I'm considering moving from the area I have called home for more than 40 years.

The lack of respect for one's neighborhood that is ingrained in these residents' habits cannot be changed with ads.

The way we get speeders to slow down and obey traffic laws is through law enforcement and fines.

A hit in the wallet gets someone's attention much more than a pretty billboard or a catchy slogan does.

Maurice Taylor


Focus on solutions instead of slogans

Baltimore was once "The City that Reads," but now its schools have the nation's third-lowest graduation rate.

Then the city decided to "Believe" and now it has one of the nation's highest murder rates.

So if history repeats itself now that Baltimore has the anti-litter slogan "Don't Make Excuses. Make a Difference" we are on the way to being the filthiest city in the nation ("$2 million ad campaign to take aim at litterbugs," Aug. 8).

Baltimore would be better served if its mayors stopped making slogans and focused on the real problem of violence in our city.

Don Ruthig

Glen Arm

Streetcars can offer easier mass transit

The city's Metro subway system is valuable because it proves beyond any doubt that Baltimore does not need the capacity of such an expensive and overbuilt heavy-rail system ("Metro station to close for sprucing up," Aug. 9).

The idea of extending it toward Morgan State University is ludicrous.

What should be done is to build a light rail-heavy rail interchange and then run light-rail or streetcar lines fanning out from the subway not only to serve Morgan State but the entire area.

The idea of building the proposed Red Line as a heavy-rail line is equally ridiculous.

What is needed is a streetcar line, which would be easy and cheap to build and serve the area well.

The Maryland Transit Administration should be offering streetcars as an option for new transit lines.

George Tyson


Festival does little for city's jazz scene

As someone who's proud of the huge array of jazz talent in Baltimore, I share the disappointment of the musicians quoted in The Sun's article previewing the Paetec Jazz Festival ("All what jazz? Not at this fest," Aug. 8).

But I have another source of disappointment in this festival.

We have 30 venues in Baltimore where live jazz happens year-round. The Paetec Festival has no connection to any of these venues.

While it's improving, Baltimore's jazz scene is still far from vibrant and the way this festival has developed will do little if anything to enhance it.

Let's hope that if Paetec Festival returns next year, it will do so with an approach that actually contributes to the health of jazz in Baltimore.

Bob Jacobson


U.S. needs to push peace for Mideast

Congratulations on the editorial "Mideast two-step" (Aug 8).

The editorial recognizes the critical importance of impartial American leadership in finding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And it properly emphasizes that our leadership would have to "move forcefully and decisively" to wring compromises and progress out of the current stalemate.

A solution to this conflict is too important to world peace for a timid, fingers-crossed hope that the local parties will work it out.

Frank Smor


Bonds has earned title of HR king

Regardless of what The Sun thinks about Barry Bonds and his alleged steroid use, remember one thing - to set a record like this, you still have to hit the ball, a lot ("A new champ, for now," editorial, Aug. 9).

Anyone who has had the opportunity to watch Mr. Bonds swing the bat should understand that it isn't the size of his arms that counts; it's his swing, bat speed and hand-to-eye coordination.

This is all about physics, not steroids. And Mr. Bonds' swing is one of the most fluid and effortless ones I have ever seen.

A swing with a full range of motion coupled with hitting the ball at the right spot are what creates a home run, not bulging muscle.

So let's take Mr. Bonds' home run record for what it is - the accomplishment of a professional ballplayer who, whether or not he had help from some pill or cream or a rabbit's foot in his pocket, has a tremendous ability to hit a baseball a long way.

Like him or not, let's give Mr. Bonds the credit he deserves for still being in the game at age 42 and for having an incredible swing.

He deserves the title of home run king.

Timothy Axelsson

North East

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