As many of you know, I am true to my belief that "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few" (thanks, Vulcans). I really do believe this, and I fight to uphold that principle as much as possible. But something really struck a nerve tonight.
It was nothing new. It wasn't even anything that spectacular. It was an offhand comment during a Daily Show interview with Tom Brokaw. Something about people admitting they'd spent beyond their means and so now how were they gonna get themselves out of this big economic hole.
For whatever reason, this reminded me of the discussion that went around when the economy first began its descent into the porcelain god normally reserved for evenings of drunken bacchanalia. "We need to help people keep their houses." Now, of course homelessness is bad. And a lot of people are legitimately just one step away from living on the streets.
But why exactly should we help out those who are in trouble because they were irresponsible? Those who had to have the biggest car, the biggest tv, the biggest house in the best neighborhood, the newest gadgets and whatnot.....???? All these things are nothing more than status symbols. People playing rich. "Look! YOU can drive a big luxury SUV that you don't need cuz you never go off a paved road! You can buy a house way bigger than you need or can afford!" Gotta keep up with them Joneses, after all.
I guess what's chapping my hide at the moment is that all the focus is on Wall Street. Yes, their corruption is beyond belief and they are ultimately the root cause of all this. But not all us people on "Main Street" (can we please retire this term? Please?) are innocent victims. Where is the dialogue about living responsibly?
Sometimes hard times hit us all, no matter what. That's the price of living in a society. But I have to say, I was really miffed when all the sympathy was flowing out to people who lived beyond their means. If you can't afford it, DON'T BUY IT. How unAmerican of me, huh? I know, I know -- our motto is that it's our "right" to have the biggest car, the biggest house, the biggest tv......and screw all those poor people in the world.
Those who are legitimately in trouble for reasons beyond their control (let's say, a medical crisis that wiped them out.....health care reform anyone?). They should be buoyed up and helped. But I'm sorry -- if you are losing your house because you had economic delusions of grandeur, well, then maybe economic darwinism should apply.
My husband and I both worked our way through college (and grad school). We spent our early adulthood continuing to live like "poor college students" while we paid off our student loans. When we bought our first house, we didn't buy some glorious brand new house with modern appliances; we bought a fixer-upper, because we knew we could safely afford it. We only buy cars that we can buy outright in one fell swoop -- no ongoing payments or fancy rigs for us. We try to take one nice vacation a year -- with "nice" meaning we stay in an $80 hotel with a pool. We started 529 plans for our children's college funds as soon as they were born. We have no debt but our home.
And yet, we are upsidedown on our mortgage. We have lost $100k+ in equity. Our jobs are the type where, if you want a promotion, you have to move. But we can't move, because we are stuck on our house. So here we sit, with no options.
Don't get me wrong -- I am not whining. I understand that hard times hit us all, blah blah and so on. All I'm saying is, it's a slap in the face to responsible Americans to lavish sympathy on the irresponsible teenagers posing as adults. I am thankful this piece of the conversation has died down. But, while Wall Street is to blame, so are the people who were personally irresponsible.
You know who you are. I'd say suck it up and take responsibility for your own actions, but you probably aren't reading this.