31 October 2008

Free Lunch

An interesting article in today's New York Times discusses those who can afford their mortgage, yet because of declining home values and the ensuing negative equity, would be better off mailing the keys to the bank and walking away.

An airline pilot who lives outside Norwich, Conn., Mr. Lawrence has a traditional 30-year mortgage that he has no trouble paying every month. But, thanks to the plunging real estate market, he owes more on his house than it is worth, like millions of other people.
If the banks, which frequently lent irresponsibly, and many homeowners, who often borrowed irresponsibly, are getting government assistance, Mr. Lawrence says he believes sober souls like himself are also due a break.
“Why am I being punished for having bought a house I could afford?” he asked. “I am beginning to think I would have rocks in my head if I keep paying my mortgage

That's quite a dilemma, why take the high ground when you can enjoy a free lunch?

I wonder what Halacha says about this.

Yet I know that many in the Frum world would jump at the opportunity.

How do I know? Because that's exactly what happens in Lakewood on a daily basis. There are hundreds (thousands?) of Kolel Younge Leit taking advantage of government (read tax-payers) largess. They do this by legally receiving welfare, food stamps and a host of other programs intended to help the needy. They do this even though there is an able bodied adult capable of going out and earning a livelihood. They do this by making themselves needy.

Now, the pilot in the above story has a bigger nisayon than the Lakewood situation. After all, indeed if free lunch is being served to irresponsible people, why be denied lunch just because you were responsible?

But the Kolel attitude is worse.

Government programs are intended for people who are in bad financial straights due to circumstances beyond their control. To purposely adopt those circumstances is disgraceful.

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