The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Dec. 11 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Winner: Rather than refinancing in order to borrow more money against the rising value of their homes, Americans today are refinancing to reduce their monthly payments or lower their mortgage balances. Some economists see this as a bad thing because it won't help consumer spending or expand the economy. We take the opposite view. Home equity loans were a big reason so many people suffered when the housing boom collapsed. If people are declining to borrow against their equity, it shows they have learned something from all that pain. In the long run, having a nation of people carrying more equity than debt is a good thing.

Loser: The latest Chevron oil leak near Red Butte Gardens apparently was caused by the company failing to winterize a pipeline by draining it of residual fluid that was inserted after the previous oil leak, in June. As just about any homeowner along the Wasatch Front can attest, leaving water in a hose attached to the house generally results in a burst pipe. In this case, the company injected fluid into the pipe as part of a pressure test during a spring day, then apparently forgot about it. Chevron apologized through a spokesman and said the company will work to regain the community's trust. We hope so.

Winner: The Utah Compact, designed to guide immigration reform along a compassionate and reasonable approach, is beginning to spread its influence nationwide. Last week the New York Times editorialized in favor of it. Not long after, a group of business, community and religious leaders in Georgia announced they were joining to promote a similar approach. Laws that focus on crimes and do not seek to separate families, and that recognize immigration as a federal issue, make much more sense than laws that seek only to chase away immigrants.

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