By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

O, the injustice of it all

From today’s New York Times story on the town of Mountain View, House, Calif., which has the highest percentage of underwater mortgages in the nation:

He has cut his DVD buying from 50 a month to perhaps one, and is waiting until the Christmas sales to buy a high-definition television. He does not indulge much anymore in his hobbies of scuba diving and flying. “Best to wait for a better price, or do without,” Mr. Rogers, 52, said.

I’m sure there is real pain in Mountain House. Let’s just say this is not a compelling example of that pain.

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11 Comments

  1. Patrick McManus

    An important correction: the article is about Mountain House CA, not Mountain View.Mountain View is to Waltham as Mountain House is to Auburn MA.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Pat: Now fixed. Thank you. I thought Mountain House was just a brand of freeze-dried beef stroganoff.

  3. matteomht

    Not only is this guy ridiculous for the comments he made– somehow I suspect there are many like him, complaining that their tax bills are too high, totally oblivious that they could go to their local public library and rent their 50 DVDs per month (gasp!) for free.Weak story. Somewhere in heaven, our Depression-era grandparents are shaking their heads.

  4. Adam Gaffin

    And then there’s stuff like this:In 2015, Mr. Martinez said, his monthly payments will be $12,000 a month. He laughed and shook his head at the absurdity of it.Yes, because he was a dumbass who took out a principal-only loan with major balloon payments.This really shows the pain caused by our economic implosion.

  5. Ani

    Whether an individual’s economic pain is self-inflicted or the result of forces beyond the individual’s control does not seem to determine outcome in our current economic mess. Yes, I know, plenty of victims of natural disasters, wars, crimes, etc. are innocent bystanders, too, but something in me still wants to yell “It’s not fair!” Of course, maybe I’ve framed the issue incorrectly.

  6. Aaron Read

    After reading that article, I actually wonder if there really is any real pain in Mountain House. Checking up on Wikipedia, it looks like the entire town didn’t exist before 2003, and was a planned community that was created solely to handle overflow from the housing bubble in the San Francisco market. I strongly suspect that anyone who lived there was inherently well-to-do. Or at least upper-middle-class. So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the residents there.I might have some for the business owners, though…they’re rather taking it in the shorts; probably moreso than some dumbass who is “roughing it” by not eating out at Applebee’s all the time anymore.

  7. Aaron Read

    Whoops – forgot my original point: this is mighty sloppy journalism considering it’s the New York F**king Times. I mean, that’s the BEST the reporter can do in finding sob stories about the residents there? I think most readers will come away hoping things get even worse in Mountain House, just to “spite the yuppies there”.

  8. io saturnalia!

    The Monopoly quote made me laugh, considering the hand-wringing over the fact that some editions of the game have adjusted property values upward to reflect modern prices.Pretty soon, I guess, that won’t be a problem; the original values are sufficient, after all.See you on Baltic Avenue!

  9. Steve

    Looking at an example Mountain House home for sale on Zillow confirms Aaron’s comments. The one I looked at (1900 sq ft, 3BR/3BA on a 3800 sq ft lot) sold new for $463K in 2004. They’re asking $290K. Glub glub. That’s got to be painful no matter what you think of the owners.

  10. Revival

    The story went off in the wrong direction. My guess is you’ve got a freelancer here and probably a young one, too. Doesn’t understand finance or housing and isn’t paid enough to learn it.The news peg is obviously that this is the most upside down town in America. The point of the story should be, ‘how did it get this way?’ Instead we get a story written as if it’s about typical sad sack homeowners in a market trending down.This is not a trend story; it’s a man bites dog story. This is the town with the highest concentrations of upside down mortgages. So it is unique and we should learn why it’s unique. But we never do.Poor reporting+Poor editing=Lousy story. Show it to your students, Dan, as an example of how a story gets mangled, either because of the reporting, the editing or both.

  11. mike_b1

    The *ahem* great Bob Ryan once had this to say — in an email, no less, which I still have — about an exceptionally predictable (and grossly misinformed) storyline: “Everybody’s writing about it. I did it because I was told to.” [Emphasis mine.]So if a leading columnist at a major paper can blame his editor, perhaps we should cut some slack to a poor schlub reporter?

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