More education needed on finance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Gov. Ted Strickland announced an effort Tuesday that will provide assistance to homeowners looking to fight for their homes in the middle of the foreclosure crisis.

Some 1,100 attorneys will provide free services to those seeking legal assistance and an understanding of their financial options. Those attorneys will work with legal aids, and will try to curb the increasing rate of foreclosures.

Homeowners who make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty rate are eligible for the program, but more people could become eligible at a later date. That is about $55,000 of income for a family of four.

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“These are people who are willing to pay their mortgage,” Columbus Legal Aid Staska Keefer told the Associated Press. “They’re not trying to get a free house.”

This initiative can provide some real help to struggling homeowners. However, there is a bigger picture to understand when it comes to the impact this crisis is having on the U.S. economy.

With the looming costs of retirements for baby boomers and the current state of the economy, the notion that America will lose its superiority as an economic superpower is no longer a question of if, but when.

Certainly there is enough blame to go around. Predatory lenders have some responsibility, as do the people who agree to the terms of loans, no matter how dangerous they were.

But what this crisis should reveal is that Americans are simply not versed well enough in the area of personal finance. In short, the United States is a country that collectively fails Economics 101.

That is not to suggest that schools on the secondary and post-secondary levels are not trying to educate young people in this area.

However, the financial institutions of America have been built — to some degree — because of a lack of understanding by the U.S. citizenry.

But, as we can now see with startling clarity, the debt problems that have engulfed American families are not theirs alone.

There is a price for everyone, well, to pay.