I'm both a believer that leverage can be used for good and that consumers should be able to take on risk without government interference. That said, most consumers aren't savvy enough to understand their own risk structure (e.g. "Do I need that operation the doctor recommended?"). So it's left up to experts to inform consumers of risk beyond the consumers' expertise. That's a major conflict of interest, especially in the commission-based finance system. I suppose the real question isn't whether or not HELs should exist, but rather how liable should banks be when mortgagees go belly up en masse? Miami is trying to convince the courts the answer to that question should be "a lot". Their standing in a suit against big backs was recently affirmed by a federal court, so now we'll see what happens. Very much anticipating the results, even though it will be years.