A Mansion Just Over The Hilltop - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

A Mansion Just Over The Hilltop

By Mike Royer

It’s a song we used to sing at the Good Hope Baptist Church in Clay City. It went something like, “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop, in that bright land where we’re never grow old.” A song about a mansion stuck in our minds back then and still does today. We not only didn’t know anyone who lived in a mansion, we’d never seen one except in the movies. So, singing about having one in heaven one day inspired a young man back then. If I never got to see one, let alone live in one down here, at least I could look forward to having one in heaven someday. Now, if you don’t believe heaven is a literal place, then having a mansion there probably doesn’t impress you much, but it did me and it still does.

I don’t have a mansion down here in Birmingham, do you know why? It’s because I can't afford one. Same reason I don’t have a yacht. I have a boat that really is two long tubes of steel with plywood and cheap carpet on top, but it’s mine and it’s paid for. Know why I don’t have a yacht? It’s because I can’t afford one. There’s a house about a mile from where I live that looks sort of like a mansion. I’ve never been inside but my son has and he says it looks like a mansion to him. It’s big old house, with big white pillars in front. The house sits on about 2 acres of land. It has a long winding driveway and you have to have a secret code number to open the big steel gate that allows you to drive it. I’m guessing you have to be family or a pretty good friend to know what that secret code number is. To drive in my driveway, all you have to know is how to turn left.

Now, I’m afraid I’ve let my skimmer leak and I’ll never own a mansion. If I had thought ahead a little bit, I would have bought that mansion and maybe a yacht too but now it’s probably too late. What I should have done was called the folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and told them my story. I would have told them that there’s this house that I’ve always wanted but simply can’t afford. If I understand how Fannie and Freddie operate, they would have said, “Now don’t you worry about a thing. Just because you can’t afford the mansion doesn’t mean you can’t buy it.”

If I understand the procedure correctly, the guy at Fannie or Freddie would have said, “you know it’s every Americans dream and right to be a homeowner, so we’ll loan you enough money to buy that mansion.” I would have said, “I probably ought to warn you, that mansion cost about $2 million and on my salary there’s no way I’ll be able to make a down payment, a monthly payment, why heck I don’t even think I can afford the taxes on mansion like that.”

Then they would give me a check and all the paperwork I need including a booklet filled with payment coupons that I’m supposed to send in each month with my house payment. Of course I wouldn’t send in the coupons or a check because I couldn’t afford to make the payment, just like I warned 'em. After a while I, along with millions of other deserving Americans would realize that our mansion isn’t worth what we paid for it and now the folks who hold the mortgage would like to get paid anyway. This is where my government comes to the rescue, the same exact government that created Freddie and Fannie in the first place and they put up billions and billions of dollars to bail me and my creditors out. After all it’s not my fault, it’s not Freddie or Fannie's fault. Because as we all know, it’s every American's dream and right to be a homeowner.

Many of us who were born and raised in the 50’s were misled by our parents who drilled into our mush-filled brains that you get out of life exactly what you put into it. You and you alone are responsible for your lot in life. It’s not up to others to provide for you. Feed yourself, educate yourself, work hard, don’t ever quit. It would have been so much simpler if Mom and Dad had just told us that if we wait long enough, Uncle Sam will take care of all of our wants and needs including that dream home we’ve always longed for.

“And someday yonder, we will never more wander, but walk on streets that are pure as gold.”

See you tonight at 4:30, 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

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