Today’s rant:

I’ve been following the recent news regarding the rising rate in home foreclosures.  Although certain sub-prime lenders are certainly guilty of making too many home loans to people with bad credit (can you spell greed?), it appears to me that not enough reporting has been done about the people who are now defaulting.  If you were told that you could get an ARM with an intro rate of 3%, you were also told that the rate would certainly rise when the prime rate increased – meaning a higher house payment.  If you could barely afford your mortgage at 3% interest, why would you expect to be able to make it at 6 or 7%?  Did these people actually believe that the Fed Reserve would continue lowering the interest rate indefinitely? 

I certainly have great sympathy for people who have fallen on hard times due to a medical or job crisis, or something else they have no control over.  I’m just sick and tired of hearing news reports that blame credit card and loan companies for the poor financial management skills of the rest of the American public.  Where is the personal responsiblity?  If you’re living on the edge financially and you have the means to change it – why wouldn’t you?  Why would you continue to gamble your financial well-being in the hopes that the status quo will never change?  

The really sad thing is that now many of these people can’t even sell their homes for what they paid for them.  The housing bubble was destined to burst.  In fact, it was predicted well in advance of the actual event.  So if you’re going to make the largest purchase you will ever make in your life, wouldn’t you evaluate the options carefully before you scribble your signature on the dozens of documents that will tie up the bulk of your spending pie for the next several years? 

Maybe this is just another example of how people are abdicating most of their personal responsibilities:  Parenting is now the school district’s responsibility.  Your lung cancer is the tobacco company’s responsibility.  McDonald’s is responsible for the nation’s weight gain.

So here’s my own list of things I’m personally abdicating any responsibility for:

  • I blame my gene pool for being short, stocky and prematurely gray, which has prevented me from a lucrative career as an underwear model for Victoria’s Secret.
  • I jointly blame the Tostitos company and Edy’s Ice cream for the size of my thighs.
  • I blame my 1st grade teacher for teaching me to read, which has led to my life of solitude with my face buried in a book.  This has kept me from being an extroverted, nationally-renowned  motivational speaker.
  • I blame a girl I went to Junior High with for teaching me how to smoke cigarettes.  I still smoke and it’s all your fault.

Whew, that’s a relief. 


4 Responses to “rant”

  1. 1 V March 28, 2007 at 9:07 am

    I blame my gray hair, weight gain, inability to read a book, and smoking on my kids…

  2. 2 Blue Athena April 3, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    I don’t know…is the current situation punishing borrowers for stupidity or for greed? I mean, people are really, really stupid. Most people. Yet we don’t go around punishing those with low IQs generally.

    I remember once hearing the lottery described as a “tax on stupidity”. I don’t really agree with that fully, but the idea of a tax on stupidity is real. And we allow it all the time. Just watch the ads on TV. Most of those products tax the stupid. But is it fair? Does it benefit society? Do we believe that punishing the stupid is altering the genetic pool?

    Now maybe they were just greedy or blinded by optimism. But is this really a changeable personality trait? And is this a reasonable lesson to learn it by? And shouldn’t these things have been taught by parents and in the schools if so many people can’t learn them on their own?

    I guess the thing is that I tend not to think it terms of blame or credit or responsibility. I don’t believe in a libertarian concept of free will, so those terms don’t really make sense. Everyone plays a part. Everyone contributes their share of stupidity.

  3. 3 observantbystander April 4, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Great comments, Athena. I agree that many people were blinded by optimism during the housing bubble, and there certainly were some great opportunities available to people who would otherwise not have been able to own a home. I do believe that financial responsibilty and fiscal prudence needs to be taught in the home, however I hear that, again, school districts are finding themselves taking the parenting role, making Personal Finance a requirement for graduation.

    I guess I feel fortunate to have been raised in a family that took financial responsibility very seriously.

    True, we don’t go around punishing people for their stupidity, generally. Maybe it’s my age and cynicism, but it feels like society is dumbing down to a whole new level, taking personal responsiblity with it – to an extent. Or maybe it’s the blue collar, working class environment I’ve been working in for several years which skews my perception of society in general. Nice guys, hard workers – but little to no perception of the world outside of our little Midwestern niche, and seemingly no motivation to stretch their mindsets.

    You’ve given me some good points to ponder today.

  4. 4 Blue Athena April 4, 2007 at 11:41 am

    So were people always this stupid? I don’t know, but I’m inclined to say probably. Remember the tulip bulb fiasco:


    That was the 1600s…and I wouldn’t want to have lent any of these folks money for a house.

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