Tell me again? You can admit to killing your neighbor, go for dinner, come back and dismember him, throw his body parts in the Bay, and be found ‘not guilty?’ Maybe the murder was self-defense (and maybe his wife ‘just disappeared’) . . . but is there no law against dismembering – rather than reporting to the police – a body you have recently rendered inanimate? This would seem to the untrained mind to be ‘hit and run’ in the extreme.

Jim Batterson: ‘You responded to a question [yesterday] about what Republican ideal you support. Consider this one from the 2000 Republican Platform:Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same. Therefore, we reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

☞ Actually, I think a balanced budget amendment is a rotten idea. A small federal deficit is not a bad thing, and a big one at times of high unemployment is a good thing. But I certainly take your larger point – the irony of supposed fiscal conservatives setting us up for giant structural deficits long after the recession ends.

And then there is the multi-trillion-dollar matter of what we’re borrowing for. Investments in our children? Investments in our infrastructure? Investments in technology and alternative energy? No . . . tax cuts for those who least need – and are least likely to spend – them.

Chris Mason: ‘Whatever conservatives are e-mailing you, complaining about your ridiculously pro-Democrat columns, I second what they say!’

☞ So there!

I suppose you’ve seen this by now, but just in case . . .

The New California Governor has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the state, rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, The Terminator’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as “Austro-English” (or, if nobody will be offended, “Austrionics”).

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favor of the “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with the “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza.

Isaac O.: ‘My sister and I recently inherited a house with a mortgage. The remaining debt is low ($33,500), and our respective shares of the equity will depend, of course, on the appraisal. (Small midwestern house that we expect to appraise around $70k.) Here’s the twist. I want to buy out my sister’s share (she is willing) and move in to the house. I have spoken to the current mortgage company and there is no need to change over the mortgage, but in order to pay my sister her share of the equity I will need to refinance. That’s where it gets a little rough. I have pretty rough credit. I have never filed bankruptcy or had a foreclosure, but I have had charge-offs and very bad payment histories on CCDs. My auto loans have been pretty good, but everything else has been pretty bad. I will be able to fully pay off most of my outstanding accounts before I apply for a mortgage, but my question is this: If the house is appraised at $70,000 and I only need a loan for $51k, will this be enough to counter the bad credit history? FYI, I have also moved frequently over the past few years, and have only been with my current employer for about 1.5 years.’

☞ Well, the only way to know for sure is to try. You can almost surely find a way to do this, although you might find yourself paying a high interest rate.

But what if, instead, you sold the house, took your share of the equity, and got to the point where you were completely debt-free (renting an apartment instead of owning this house)?

I’m not saying this is THE thing to do. But would you not have a great feeling of relief to be off the debt treadmill . . . and to have everything effectively cost you 10% or 20% less once you were off that treadmill?


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