Investor CAFÉ

Skousen CAFE: Stop Treating Me like a Criminal

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”

– Anton Chekhov

“In today’s world, everything is either prohibited or mandated.”

– Jorge Quiroga (former president of Bolivia)

Trust is essential in society — in business and personal relationships. Yet more and more because of a growing degree of lawlessness and irresponsibility in America and around the world, trust is being lost and we are all being treated like criminals — guilty until proven innocent.

In my lifetime, as a younger man, you were assumed to be an honest person. Your word was your bond, and a handshake was as good as a contract in business. You didn’t need to show your ID when you checked into a hotel or motel; you didn’t need to be patted down or your bag checked when you went to a baseball game; you didn’t need to be fingerprinted to be a stockbroker or kindergarten teacher; you didn’t need to go through a metal detector to walk into court; or have you and your luggage X-rayed when boarding an airplane. In fact, you could take a gun on board without violating any law.

But that’s all history now. Today, everyone is treated as a common criminal. Nobody is trusted in business or the public arena. Everyday officials are demanding, like the Gestapo, “Your papers, please!”

In the early 1980s, I wrote a book called “The Complete Guide to Financial Privacy.” If I would write that book today, it would be a pamphlet. There is precious little privacy left.

I recently received a telephone call from a mortgage broker from Chase, which has held my mortgage for six years. Calling me by my first name, as if we were old friends, she encouraged me to refinance, which she said could save me over $1,000 a month from my current mortgage. No doubt it is true — rates have dropped dramatically in the past six years.

It all sounded like a good idea until we came to the details of filing a new mortgage application. I have an impeccable credit rating, having paid my monthly mortgage for six years without a single missed payment, plus having paid down my principal in half by making additional payments… and she said that I would have to provide two years of personal tax returns to prove my ability to pay the monthly mortgage that would be less than what I am paying now.

“Why,” I asked? “Don’t you trust me? Don’t my past payments speak for themselves, or my credit rating, one of the highest?”

“It’s the rules,” she said. “The rules established by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.”

“Oh, you mean the government-guaranteed finance agencies that were so irresponsible that they had to be bailed out?” I asked.

I told her, “Just because they are the rules don’t make them right.” And I hung up.

You Blew It! Vice President Biden Misses Target with Shotgun Reasoning

The tragic shooting of children, teachers and a principal at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., led President Obama to pursue gun control proposals offered by Vice President Joe Biden, who has become a target of criticism in his role as head of the White House-appointed task force to address the issue.

Biden tried to win support for banning assault weapons by explaining that all law-abiding citizens need to protect themselves, their families and their property can be provided through the use of a shotgun. The news reports of his comments during a “fire side” question-and-answer session Jan. 24 left people incredulous who really know about firearms.

“A shotgun will keep you a lot safer — a double-barreled shotgun — than an assault weapon in somebody’s hand who doesn’t know how to use it, even one who does know how to use it,” Biden said. “You know, it’s harder to use an assault weapon to hit something than it is a shotgun.”

Critics of the White House’s sudden rush to call for gun-control legislation after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Connecticut pounced on Biden’s reasoning. One prominent commentator who took issue with Biden’s comments is former Republican presidential candidate and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee.

If you have multiple people coming at you, an unwieldy, double-barreled shotgun will be of limited effectiveness in stopping the threat, Huckabee explained. Huckabee characterized Biden’s reasoning as “idiocy” and emphasized that a double-barreled shotgun with just two shells might only serve as protection against a lone intruder who does not have a higher-power weapon and is slower to pull the trigger.

Biden is a career politician who sometimes seems to shoot from the hip without having his facts straight. His latest comments in favor of instituting gun-control measures are just the most recent example.

Do not expect this issue to be resolved easily any time soon with Biden and his questionable rationale representing the side of gun-control supporters.

To read my e-letter from last week, please click here. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below.

Yours for peace, prosperity and liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen
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