Rich Tucker

All we need to do is read the papers or watch the news to realize that we live in troubled economic times. It may even be time for desperate measures.

Consider the bleak picture drawn recently by Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles. “What does it mean that the housing market is ‘cooling off’?” Toles asks. He then draws a man living in a refrigerator box.

Of course this cartoon is ludicrous.

After all, with our national economy in such dire circumstances, there couldn’t possibly be any refrigerator boxes around. Who can even think of buying a new refrigerator these days? Most Americans have, presumably, been reduced to burying their perishable items (assuming they can afford milk and eggs for their starving families) in the cold, cold ground.

If, that is, they still have a home at all.

“There has been a dramatic increase in foreclosures,” warned CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sept. 20. “People losing their homes. They’ve worked so hard for so long to get this house. And all of a sudden they can’t meet the mortgage payments.”

Blitzer didn’t mention refrigerator boxes. But his dire warnings stood in stark contrast to the facts as explained by the very reporter he was speaking to that day. As Ali Velshi explained, “For homebuyers with good credit, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 6.29 percent, not even a full percentage point higher than it was a year ago.” That’s an increase, but certainly one virtually all mortgage holders can afford.

But, Velshi went on, “there’s still the actual housing problem. The median price for an existing home in America is $218,000 -- $3,700 less than it was a year ago.” So wait: very few people are going to lose their homes. That sounds like good news. Yet “housing” is a “problem” because the price of homes is edging down? When it comes to housing, the news is bad when prices go up … and it’s bad when prices come down.

In many ways, this struggling economy is our own fault. During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry warned us repeatedly that we were living in the “worst economy since Herbert Hoover.” But we didn’t listen, and re-elected President Bush.

Luckily, we’ll soon have another chance to improve things by electing another liberal senator. Recently, presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York announced some of her ideas to “fix” our economy.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for