Re: Feb. 9 article, “Austin Habitat for Humanity begins work on ‘net zero’ homes.”
Hidden in the article about Austin Habitat for Humanity building “net zero” homes was a disturbing conundrum about providing affordable home ownership.
Families can finance home purchases with zero-interest mortgages and are insulated from property tax hikes by leasing the underlying land. But here’s the rub: Families are buying a depreciating asset — a house — while they will never benefit from owning an appreciating asset — the land.
So, unless the article left out a key component of the arrangement, it sounds as if this tactic does provide an affordable roof over families’ heads where they are otherwise being priced out of living in our community, but it is a Band-Aid that does not offer a way of rectifying asset inequities that plague communities of color.
WENDY GORDON, AUSTIN
Re: Feb. 10 commentary, “Why I’ll dread my trip to the mailbox.”
Special contributor Rich Oppel provides us a sad awakening on the long-term care pathway.
Many of us who do not want to be a burden on family, friends, children and the government thought this was an excellent tool to be proactive in addressing the need for late-life care. The ever-increasing premiums have negated that belief.
The most remarkable part of this story is that GE is a financial company. You would think that their financial planners and actuaries would have been the cream of the crop — but they missed almost everything.
I did not ask to review the actuarial assumptions. Learn from my mistake!
DAVE SKINNER, GEORGETOWN
Every week, it seems we read some article advocating revenue-neutral carbon taxes. We are never given details however, because that would expose the truth.
Carbon taxes would raise the price of gasoline, diesel, natural gas and coal. Not only would we pay more at the pump, we would, too, for everything delivered by truck. Also, your bills would go up.
Who calculates what it would cost each family? It’s impossible. Maybe we would get an “average” refund after the government takes it’s cut to cover “expenses.” Revenue-neutral is a lie designed to hurt everybody who uses and produces fossil fuel. Typical environmentalist tactics.
STEVE HUNDLEY, AUSTIN
Watergate happened when I was in college. I didn’t understand politics, but this much I knew: President Nixon lied. He said what I would expect a liar to say to cover his misdeeds. My Republican friends were blind to this — but they thankfully were in the minority.
President Trump reaches new lows of presidential competence, morality and statesmanship daily. He politicizes that which shouldn’t be politicized. He uses the government to throw sand in the eyes of others, to cover his misdeeds, proclaiming non-supporters as non-American or worse. Enough!
Nixon had his toadies. So does Trump, including Fox News and Vladimir Putin. When the dust settles, there should be an accounting — no matter who or which party or which news outlet. Those in the wrong should be poleaxed — quoting Winston Churchill. Those who defended decency, truth, justice and the American way should be revered.
DON BATORY, AUSTIN
In 1933, Germany was disarmed, nearly bankrupt, plagued by unemployment, torn by political dissension, and considered the weakest power in the West. In less than seven years, a vagabond from the gutters of Vienna named Adolph Hitler transformed Germany into the mightiest state in Europe while the rest of the world watched.
Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011. Though North Korea is not the mightiest state in the East, it has the capacity to destroy South Korea and surrounding countries while the world watches. Different eras in history, different weapons — but the same old approach to a mad man: negotiate. It doesn’t work and never will. Every free country must support South Korea and get in Kim Jong Un’s face, except the U.S. We’ve been there. No more American blood in either Korea. We’ll train these countries; we’ll supply them; but it’s their job to get it done.
MERRILL WHITEHEAD, WIMBERLEY