Dealing With the Downturn

"How Scared Should You Be?" [October 13-20] was right on the money, informative, and scary as hell! Most people are outraged over the bonuses and salaries that many of the CEOs of the failed institutions have received during the past decade.

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"How Scared Should You Be?" [October 13-20] was right on the money, informative, and scary as hell! Most people are outraged over the bonuses and salaries that many of the CEOs of the failed institutions have received during the past decade. But remember, these obscene salaries and bonuses had to be approved by the obsequious, rubber-stamping boards of directors of the institutions to have made this possible. And let us not forget that Henry Paulson is a card-carrying member of this fraternity, joined by Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and George Bush as honorary members. What can a little guy like me do? Nothing but send E-mails to my congressman and hope he reads them.

John H. Nicolai Jr. Bridgewater, Va.

I live in a senior park, where people own their homes but pay rent for the lot. A couple of years ago, the average home here was selling for $95,000 to $105,000, but now there are 23 homes for sale and only one sold recently for $50,000. Our neighbors listed their home in May 2007 for $96,000; now, they are down to $49,000, but I haven't seen a prospective buyer there for months. In short, buying this house two years ago was obviously the worst investment I've made in my life.

Milosh Benesh Jackson, Calif.

Politicians created the circumstances nurturing the development of this massive financial upheaval. Now that it is raging, politicians are on the move. They have decided to throw money at the problem, which will have to be printed because government debt is in the trillions and counting. Since the only common and certain attribute of this cadre is their ability to persuade enough citizens to vote them into office, the headline should read: "How Angry Should You Be?"

Edward M. Kantor Troy, Ala.

The following should have been included in the buyout package. For the next six months, for any privately offered house purchase, the buyer would be able to double the mortgage deduction for the next five years. Additionally, the seller would receive a tax credit on the amount proven to be a loss, including the cost of sale. Limit the program to homesteads, and limit the deductions to median home values in the particular market. A home purchased in Los Angeles would have a higher deduction than a home in Fort Wayne, Ind. If the sellers knew that buyers were on the market again, prices might drop and buyers might get some sense of urgency to start looking. If this part is not included, foreclosed homes will so overshadow the free-market houses that the free-market homes will become the problem. It would cost the government nothing because with nothing happening now, there are no tax revenues. All it does is help the common person buy or sell a home.

James L. Golm Fremont, Ind.

The captain accepts responsibility for the safety of the ship. If the ship sinks as a result of his negligence, then the captain can be held responsible. The CEO of a company should accept responsibility for the safety and well-being of a company. If the company fails as a result of his negligence, then the CEO has broken his contract with the company and can be held liable. A captain cannot steal part of the cargo and then sink the ship; neither can a CEO.

Dave Rhodell Austin

Nice set of articles about the economy, though you never really did answer your own question on the cover: "How Scared Should You Be?"

Kathryn Meyer Westfield, N.C.