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Mortgage woes aren’t all alike

Perspective: Victims should benefit from needs-based sympathy, solutions

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In the rampant finger-pointing that has characterized the country's current mortgage crisis, homeowners have come in for their share of the blame. Indeed, much of the punditry and backyard-fence gossip has focused on the misguided financial decisions that landed so many people in troubles seemingly of their own devices. But absent from the debate is the underlying and undeniable reality that not all of today's troubled homeowners landed in dire straits through the same poor choices. Rather, the degree of bad fortune versus self-inflicted misery varies just as much as the individual stories do. These distinctions are important because government aid, lender forbearance and even social sympathy tend to be doled out on the basis of merit. The assumption that all homeowners are equally worthy of such benefits ignores this basic tenet; and that oversight can result in too-generous giveaways for folks who tried to game the system and inadequate support for people who were truly...