Low income families will now be able to get

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families, while easing restrictions on mortgage loans. Low-income families will now be able to get subsidized mortgage loans through the Federal Housing Administration that are equal to 103 percent of the purchase price of a home. Home ownership can sometimes be a ticket to the middle class, but buying homes at bubble-inflated prices may saddle hundreds of thousands of poor families with an unmanageable debt burden.” - Dean Baker, The Nation , August 16, 2004 In 1916 at the University of Frankfurt in Germany, scientists Martin Freund and Edmund Speyer developed the drug, oxycodone, as an alternative to heroin, which had been branded, marketed, and sold from 1898 to 1910, by the drug company Bayer as a painkiller. As an opioid painkiller, the expectation was that oxycodone would be a prescription for severe pain, yet would have none of the severe consequences of heroin such as its long-lasting nature, its addictive impact on the brain, and its possible deadly effect if taken in excessive quantity. In many ways, the development of oxycodone has been a resounding success. It is not only formulated as a single product but combined with numerous over-the-counter painkillers. The products include such familiar names as OxyContin, Percocet, Depalgos, and Percodan, among others. From approximately 11 tons of production in 1998, it grew sevenfold to 75 tons by 2007, approximately 80% of which services the U.S. market. The problem is that, if oxycodone is not taken rarely and then carefully in moderation, it is highly addictive with almost 100% surety -- more so than almost any narcotic, alcohol, or tobacco. With each prescription, the individual needs a little more next time for the same sense of satisfaction – so-called chasing the dragon -- leading to a downward spiral. Going cold turkey doesn’t work well as the side effects of withdrawal are severe. And, unfortunately, the U.S. as a whole has become addicted to painkillers. In the summer of 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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126 reported that abuse of opioid painkillers like oxycodone had risen more than 400 percent over the last decade with no sign of abatement. Like our analogy above, the U.S. is addicted to home ownership, and there is perhaps no better example than the tax credits provided by the U.S. government for home buying during the financial crisis. 68 Initially put forth in July 2008 with the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, first-time home buyers were to receive a credit of $7,500 for purchases between April 2008 and July 2009. Taxpayers, however, were required to repay the credit over a 15-year period – the equivalent of a mortgage finance “small Percocet dose”. As it wore off, and the housing pain had not disappeared, some six months later, in February 2009, the Economic Stimulus bill increased the credit to $8,000 and dropped the repayment requirement – a step up in its “dose”. And then in November 2009, Congress extended the credit an additional 5 months and now included not only first-time home buyers, but also a $6,500 credit for homeowners who were relocating – yet another increase in the “dose”.
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