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Up On My Soapbox
By: Doug Bittinger - September 30, 2008

OK, I've kept my mouth shut just about long enough.  I'm sure you have been watching the big Wall Street bail-out scare.  I'm sure you noticed the nearly record setting drop in the stock market when it was announced that they would NOT get the cash injection they wanted.  At least not today.  I am not at all sure the bail-out is a good thing; just giving the people who created this mess a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card in the big Monopoly game of life.  If the Government buys up all the bad debt to make the big investment banks solvent again so they can resume making mortgage loans and car loans and offering credit cards so people can buy things they can't afford they may go right back and do it all again by writing loans for people who should not have them.  Yes, yes, the Federal Government will have oversight committees in place to see that the banks act responsibly with their lending.  Yeah, the Federal Government is SO skilled at running within it's budget and balancing it's books.  Nope, I don't trust them.  Besides, what happens when all the big money is controlled by the Government?  More than one commentator has said that Federalizing the banking system like this is a big step toward Socialism.  Don't think it would happen?  We've already got one guy campaigning for drastic, genuine, change in our government.  Socialism would be a change.

Between the unfettered greed of big business and the “gotta have it all right now” attitude of private citizens who are living on snowballing credit card debt, it’s not at all surprising that the country is falling apart at the seams.  Everyone wants to blame the big banks – and they are at fault, to be sure – but people who signed up for loans they knew they could not afford also have to shoulder some of the blame.

When my wife and I were looking at buying a Palm Harbor Home, we went in and told them how much we could afford in a monthly payment and they gave us a ballpark price range to select a home from.  When we found one we liked, they ran our credit report.  When they found out that their financing arm (Country Wide Mortgage) would qualify us for a MUCH larger mortgage then we wanted, they started raising the prices on us and tried to steer us into a larger home.  We walked away, we KNEW we could not afford that much of a mortgage.  Then when Country Wide went belly up and got sued for their deceptive lending practices we were SO glad we had not bought into their line of bull.  I imagine a lot of people said, “Oh, really, we can have twice as much house as we thought – well, heck yeah, let’s go for it.”  They are some of the ones who are now belly-aching because they’re in foreclosure and about to lose their homes (if they haven’t already) and expecting the government to "fix it" for them.

I DO have sympathy for these people; some were lied to and swindled but others were just so giddy with the excitement of owning their dream home that they didn't bother to read the contract.  I still believe that people need to be held accountable for their own decisions.  The average American seems to be getting more and more stupid (or perhaps greedy) in their decision making.  I think it goes back to that idea that they have to have everything they want right now.  Just a couple of generations ago people saved their money for what they wanted, budgeted, scrimped if necessary to accumulate the funding for what they wanted.  I’m not sure where that all went wrong, but is sure has gone wrong!

So, if the Federal Government doesn't bail out the big Wall Street banks the economy of the entire world will collapse and we will plummet into the deepest, darkest depression since the dawn of time.  Or so they tell us.  But we've got oil companies that are causing anything that has to be moved from one place to another to double or triple in price because of the high price of fuel, we've got corporate executives who make hundreds of millions of dollars per year in salary as they run the corporation into the ground, then bail out with their golden parachute retirement to make even more money while the average Joe who bought stock in their company as an investment for retirement loses his shirt.  We've got Wall Street "players" who manipulate the prices of stocks and make fortunes for themselves while destroying the smaller companies they play with through naked short selling.  Why?  It's all GREED.  Too many people have stopped caring about what happens to anyone -- even themselves apparently -- as long as they get what they want right now.  And how do you legislate against greed?

Maybe the "system" needs to collapse.  Maybe then people will learn some common sense again.

OK, I’ll climb down off my soap box now.

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