I have been pondering this for about a week now after reading this rant by one of my more conservative blog friends, Calvin. Her issue was personal responsibility & the topic of bailing out homeowners in this mortgage crisis which I completely understand. At least Calvin did include the mortgage lenders in her rant. I’ve talked with one fiscally conservative person who does not and heard a few talking heads on the TV pretty much lump the whole mess on the consumers. Anytime I hear someone wax poetic about personal responsibility, I totally get it. And I agree with the concept. But then I think “in a perfect world, sure this makes total sense”. But hey, all the education in finance that I have, the great example of not over spending set by my parents, and still, I technically am one of “those” consumers. I trusted my RE agent when she said I could afford my house. I trusted the lender who qualified me. Most of all, after 18 years of renting I so desperately wanted to have a slice of the American Dream right? Own my house. Security. A sound investment. No matter that I had no money down. No matter that it was an interest only loan (fixed for 2 years and then an ARM). I was IN. Granted, I knew I had a stable job and yes, I am lucky to at least know what a minimum salary increase will be most years. Plus, I was lucky that my timing was such that when I went to refi at the 2 year mark, I still go a pretty good rate on a more conventional though still UN-conventional loan (still interest only but this time for 10 years and fixed rate all the way). All that being more information than you wanted or needed, it kinda illustrates how I can see the other side of things in this mess. The side of that stupid consumer who trusted the scumbag lender because all they could see was their chance at home ownership and those long term financial risks faded into the shadows of their dream house as the lender kept whispering sweet nothings of reassurances. And now they are losing that dream home. Probably facing bankruptcy which wont go well because those rules were tightened up in the last few years. And while bailing them out or easing bankruptcy rules would allow many “just plain stupid people” an opportunity that perhaps many think they dont deserve, it *would* bail out the person who ended up on disability due to an illness or accident (or because their health insurance denied them access to medical care. Oops, different topic!), or who lost their job due to layoffs, or the injured soldier that Calvin mentioned, or any number of very valid, out of their control reasons why many people have been hit hard with this crisis. But you see, my perspective in the end of all this is that I would rather suffer from bailing out people who don’t deserve it and ensure the rest are cared for, than leave the truly needy in the cold in order to save those taxpayers dollars from going to the truly stupid consumer.
Side note: Seeing the other side of things has always been my ‘thing’. Even when I was young I considered myself wishy-washy (funny that since I was often accused of being crabby Lucy not wishy washy Charlie Brown) because I would somehow automatically be able to see both sides of any issue and therefore it was hard for me to make a decision. A lot of times debating some issues I can pretty well argue both sides 🙂 Not because I am being a devils advocate, but just because I empathize with either point of view. This particular mind set has the positive effect (I think) of keeping me from being judgmental. I know more than a few people who have a very hard time with that because their first instinct is always to project their own life experiences on the masses which clearly never works well. I usually end up heaving a sigh and saying something like “well, yes dear, in a perfect world people would not make that mistake, but….”
I know I said that when discussing politics the only skewering I would do would be against the media (because they are such a huge target!) and I really don’t mean this to be a dig at the right, however,..as I continued to ponder the notion of personal responsibility and how taxpayer money should or should not be used, I found my internal debate team often saying in response to a conservative point “in a perfect world, yes that would be true.” Then on Friday night I was watching Bill Maher. Amy Holmes is a regular correspondent for him and she provides the occasional conservative viewpoint. This past week they got on the topic of sex education in schools. She was against it completely – even abstinence only. She said it should come from the parents and no one else and the schools should not be involved. Then one of the other panelists (and I cannot remember which one so this is not an exact quote) said ‘Sure, in a perfect world that would be true. But I find that a lot of conservative arguments start like that. They start from a perfect world scenario and come up with stances and laws based on that and rarely acknowledge the fact that this is not that perfect world they envision and then they never account for the very real deviations from their perfect world norms.’ Given the many debates I’ve had in the past few years(and not just those in my own mind!), and the many, many times I’ve said “yes, in a perfect world that would work” I sure felt a total connection with that statement!
And in this not so perfect world, please know that I have deep respect and love for many people in real life and in this land of 1s and 0s who do not share my perspectives and that will not change.