Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Economic Crisis - WIP

There is a lot of finger pointing as to the cause of the current economic crisis.
Blame... blame... blame...
Some say it is the Democrats, some say it is the Republicans.
Some say it is the senior officers of high finance others say... well, they say that WE ARE ALL TO BLAME.

Contrary to what Whoopie Goldberg said, not everyone went to the party of financial free-for-all, and it's not just us that have to clean it up, it is going to be our children that are going to be dealing with this as well.

It would be easy to point the finger at one group and have a good ole fashion lynching.
Or just shrug and say that we all did it and a good ole fashion love-in.
But here's the reality, America is a culture of irresponsible finance, and there are a lot of people that are VERY responsible with their finances and are getting screwed because of the greed and financial irresponsibility of the masses.  I don't want to blame culture, can I blame materialism?

Melissa and I bought a used Hyundai Accent and it is paid off.
We bought a small townhouse that is about 45 minutes from the city.
We don't have any credit card debt.
We live within our means and we don't live on credit.
So... don't blame me for this mess.

Unlike so many other high finance companies, J.P.Morgan did not get themselves into the trouble that so many other did with high risk sub-prime loans... so I'm told.  So maybe there are some businesses that are fiscally reasonable.

Too many people buy the propaganda of the capitalism machine that material gain is the key to happiness, that a certain 'standard of living' is a non-negotiable. 
Some Democrats are guilty of this and some are not.
Same goes for Republicans, senior officers of high finance, and the average citizen.
I suspect that some politicians are not saying this because it would be upsetting to hear and they would lose approval.  Who's going to be approving of a guy that says you make crap financial decisions?

Why is looking for blames so seductive?

I've had the rare luxury of working with a leader that values moderation, diplomacy, and listening.  It was great for me to be exposed to real critical thinking early on.  When Clinton was president there was a lot of talk from Christian conservatives about how horrible he was.  My pastor told me that Clinton was not the anti-Christ.  He also told me interesting things about how Clinton managed meetings and actively sought out his critics to listen to what they had to say.  Because I respected the guy I was willing to have an open mind.  Years later GW took office.  Again, there was a lot of talk from Christian conservatives about how GW was God's candidate.  My pastor told me that while Clinton was not the anti-Christ, GW was also not the messiah either.  

I'm not in the middle of this thing, but as an average citizen I'm not feeling great about this rescue bill.  If you believe in a free market then doesn't that mean that you do not intervene?
I hear things like, 'Japan tried a bailout ten years ago and they still haven't recovered.'  I would like to help people feel at ease in uncertain times, but I feel like I'm going against the culture.  The way I was raised was always being bailed out when I got in trouble.  My parents were trying to protect me, but they ended up insulating me from the valuable life-learning experience of suffering natural consequences.  This is our culture.  Too many expect to be rescued from consequences because this is what we were taught to expect.  

So here's my advice.  If you are not part of the solution then try not to stir up a panic.  Start managing you money by living within your means and don't live on credit.  Realize that you do not have a right to a certain standard of living, 90% of the rest of the world would love to be in your position.  

The second part of my advice is tricky because I find it difficult to abide.  Don't be a hater.
There are people I really don't like, people that I think could be dangerous.  But I need to remember that people with power and people with out power are just people.   The best of us will make mistakes and brightest will have moral failings.   Hate is a heavy burden, it is hard to let go of because it is held in a clenched fist.  The hate that it holds was justified by a feeling that 'I am right'.  Every time I was ever wrong... I felt right.

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