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Dear Mr. President: Letter #1

By Dian Vujovich

More than once, President Obama has said that he’s open to hearing ideas from citizens about ways to improve our country’s economic woes along with those that can improve the lives of all of our citizens. He’s also said that he’ll consider the ideas that make sense. So here’s my first letter to him:

Dear Mr. President,
Think you’re great. And love how it appears as though you like your wife, that you really enjoy hanging out together, talk and laugh with one another, hold hands, can slow dance and yes, I’m betting even enjoy the “s-word” thing. All are oh-so refreshing. So, by the way, is the love you openly express for your two daughters. You and your family in The White House remind me of The Huxtable’s. America loved them, too.

One more gush: The way you fly down those airplane steps with your shades on, then so suavely take them off is a “Bond…James Bond” kind of moment. I’ll be substituting ” Obama…Barack Obama” the next time I see you do that on TV.

Okay. Enough smoozing. Here are two ideas I’d like you to consider:

Number 1: Salaries of the average worker need to go up. I like the fact that you’ve frozen salaries on White House employees earning over $100,000. But in corporate America, freezes need to be put in place for the muck-a-dee-mucks on top as well as on those of paid board members. As you’re probably aware, the spread between the highest paid and the average worker is wider than ever. Numbers I’ve read indicate that top salary earners are making something like 400 percent more per year than the average employee. Fifty years ago that spread was 40 times. Wide spreads like that are one reason the average guy/gal is in so much credit card debt today. Additionally, those spreads do nothing to build a nation that prides itself on sharing its wealth and greatness.

Yes, the tiny number of people at the top aren’t likely to welcome that notion, but how many hundreds of millions—or billions—of dollars does one have to earn year after year? Looked at another way, if the average annual income in the U.S were say $75,000, and the cap on top-of-the-top earners were 100 or 200 times that, $7.5 to $15 million a year ought to be comfortably doable for most, don’t you think?

Number 2: Don’t even think about handing out any more bailout monies unless you absolutely positively know first, where every penny of it is going and second, what precisely it is to be used for. Giving $10 billion to some bank for whatever they please is a gift. Give a kid a $1000 without any stipulations and it’s a gift. Not a loan. We can’t afford gift giving, Mr. President. But we can afford help.

With respect to home foreclosures, banks and bailouts, my suggestion is to make every Wednesday Mortgage Day. That would be the day individuals with mortgage payments in arrears, or in the foreclosure process, would have to submit new mortgage and income applications to the various banks chosen to receive bailout bucks. That means, instead of throwing people out of their homes, banks would do the following: Readjust the value of that home down to today’s market value; then provide a new fixed-rate, 30- or 40-year mortgage in the range of 4 or 5 percent to the homeowner. The banks doing so would only get their bailout monies as need be.

Everybody wins in this scenario and everybody gives up something: To qualify, the homeowner’s mortgage payment could be no more than 25 percent of their annual monthly income, and the bank would have to eat their loss on the first loan–making it a write-off for them. Businesses and people seem to like those.

Again, this idea is a win-win for everyone: Homeowners aren’t put out of their homes; banks don’t have to get into the real estate business; and life goes on in a more positive helpful fashion.

I know that those are simple ideas but isn’t it the simple, straightforward, uncomplicated stuff that always works the best?

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