Some Days You’re the Statue

Is that you, gallantly astride a horse in battle?  Or do you stand resolutely for your cause, eyes affixed on the distant future?  Are you seated, confined in thought, or are your arms outstretched above the world below?

As a nation devoid of unifying leadership observes the desecration of some of its most cherished and ignored monuments, it struck me that beneath the patina of opportunistic vandalism — which I would rather not condone (the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s monument gets a carve out) — it’s become increasingly difficult for some to stride past the manmade features of our landscape without peering into the soul of the soulless and saying, “Is this who we really are?”  With these existential questions exposed to the elements of recent events, imposing figures that had survived undisturbed for decades outside are, all of a sudden, stirring passions inside.  The core of our constitutions, personal and national, is being worked out in full view.  Side-taking in our warming climate has been an inevitable side-effect.  Some of us have heatedly jumped into the fray, others have coldly unmasked opinions from their phones.

But here’s the thing about statues.  They are created to stop time.  People, on the other hand, are not.  And times change.   Presumptuous as the notion might be, what might my own statue look like?  If time stood still and I was cast in bronze, what would the future say about me and my life’s work?  Think I’m just some high-minded jerk?  OK, what would the future say about you?  I’ll admit, I didn’t draft the Declaration of Independence while also holding slaves, yet I still know that if I am to remain affixed to, or be forcibly removed from, any pedestal a century down the mirage of my road, it will say as much about me as it says about those who render that verdict.  In 2020, do any of us have the capacity to reconcile any level of contradiction and moral inconsistency in the ghosts among us or are we headed for absolute purity tests that leave only rubble in their wake?  

I believe America can survive the death of some of its dead, but as I observe what’s happening, I am rethinking how the future might weigh in on those living today.  I’ll go first.  What values do I hold that are simply not gonna stand the test of time?  Have I been an agent of greater good or lesser evil?  What visions occupy my creativity and intellect, and do I dedicate the necessary energy on imagining a better future for our heirs?  What will it take to set those ideas in motion now and to quit waiting for the cavalry to come? 

Speaking of horses, there was a time when the might of any army could be measured by them. Times change.

And some days you’re the pigeon,

Rob Spinosa
Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
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What the NRA Can Learn from the Mortgage Business

Show of hands.  How many of you identify the mortgage business, or better still, the subprime mortgage business, as the face of the last economic downturn?

Right or wrong, our industry served as the convenient scapegoat for what was, in reality, a much larger issue.  As a result, we were specifically rewarded with a tectonic shift in regulation and oversight in the years that followed.  The wrath of the pendulum swing exceeded even our wildest expectations.  The legislative edicts ushered in by the Dodd-Frank Wall St. Financial Reform Act, and its appointing of a top cop in Richard Cordray of the CFPB, dawned a Dark Ages of credit availability.  And though we’ve since become quite adept in making more with less, our industry will never be the same as a result.  Some would say we had it coming.

Though the record will reflect that I was never a purveyor of subprime or stated income loans myself, I thought I would share my enlightened experience with the NRA.  It seems to me they are finding themselves on the business end of a growing chorus of Americans who sense that a change is in the air and that the National Rifle Association is, this time around, the industry with the target on its back.  That when innocent people are being gunned down in schools, at a concert or nightclub or, Lord have mercy, at church, something ain’t right.  And I believe that one of these mass tragedies or another, or another, or another is going to be a last straw, a final stick in the spokes that sends the NRA’s whole Second Amendment joyride to a caterwauling, head-over-the-bars crash of spectacular proportions.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  No, this relative calm before the storm is the NRA’s opportunity to carefully concede, on some of their own terms, to ideas whose times have clearly come.  This is their last chance to marshal the last chance their brakes might arrest the careening descent of their overburdened, dilapidated old truck of ideas about gun ownership and gun rights.  Before the wheels come off, they can either figure out what’s most important to their constituents, carve it out and keep it, or they can keep on barreling down their path to oblivion.

The mortgage business never sobered up.  We couldn’t police our own punch bowl and leave the party in time so it ultimately took a Big Bang before it all went bust.  After the smoke cleared, many walked away with tail between legs and without shirt on back.  In retrospect, seems like cutting a bargain or two to avoid a complete meltdown, followed by a complete lockdown, would have been a sweet deal.  But no, not us.  We, too, were once invincible.  We goaded them to come pry the NINJA loan out of our cold, dead hands.  Then eventually, inevitably, they did.

Now it’s the NRA’s turn to get on the right side of history, embrace sensible change and help move America forward on this very complex and important debate.  Or, they can continue to party like it’s 1899.  If they do, they gotta know the cops are on their way.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door, 

Robert J. Spinosa