Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just Heard Megan Mcarglebargle on Marketplace.

My god, in real life she sounds even more juvenile and moronic than in print. Yes, she was there to argue that individuals have a "moral duty" to pay their mortgages. Marketplace actually had a guy on who very sharply and forcefully put the (obvious) case that when people walk away from their house they aren't "breaking" a contract they are simply acting in accordance with the contract. "This is what a contract is for" he said, trying to bring it down to a toddler level "the contract specifies what happens when one or more parties doesn't wish to continue with the contract. There are penalties and then the parties move on." To which Megan began shrieking "if my cel phone provider breaks the contract with me and there's a tiny line of print that says they pay me 50 dollars to get out of the contract I'd be very upset! You would be too! You'd call them bad people! You'd say it was wrong!" To which he replied, still more slowly, that there was a difference between feeling that something wasn't nice, and it being actually "immoral" or "unethical." He tried to explain to her that a bad business decision which results in a) pissing off your customers or b) having a bad credit rating was, perhaps, a *bad business decision* but that just because something made her personally unhappy didn't mean it was immoral or unethical. In addition, to the extent that a bad business decision results in a loss--of customer base or of credit rating, its supposed to be self correcting. The Cel phone company, the borrower, and the bank all learn not to make bad decisions again. She tried another tack and argued that treating the banks as bad actors and punishing them by refusing to pay the mortgage was "misdirected" because it was aimed too broadly. People wouldn't know which banks to punish by refusing to take out mortgages from them (?) and anyway if the banks took losses really those losses would just be passed on to the widders'n orphans (the Red Cross and California Pension Fund) who had foolishly bought the funds in the first place. I had to turn off the radio at that point because I was driving and I didn't want to crash the car with rage.



UPDATE: Audio and transcript here. --S.M.

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