In an unscientific poll on my column's blog, 92 percent of readers who responded said that people who contracted for mortgages which they couldn't afford, and should reasonably have known that they couldn't afford, should not be entitled to expect relief from the government when they're faced with foreclosure.
"The government should not bail out former homeowners in these instances," one reader writes. "My husband and I scrimped and saved and bought a little house. Where is our reward for not putting America into this crisis?"
But 63 percent of my respondents believe that people who signed for mortgages which they could afford, but then lost their jobs, are entitled to such government relief.
People who committed to a mortgage that they couldn't afford shouldn't be given relief, writes Debbie of Corona, Calif., but those who are facing foreclosure because of job loss or other life disaster "should be able to renegotiate their mortgages."
"I do not feel that the government should bail out homeowners who wanted to buy into the American Dream but couldn't afford it," says Deanne Dillenbeck of Cypress, Calif. "Nor do I feel that those who have lost their jobs should be bailed out ... The decline, and in some instances the lack of, ethics, morals and personal responsibility has in large part contributed to our current and dire circumstances."
Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.
Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.
Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.
c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)