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Not Guilty

In reading about the bank, mortgage, auto, and employment crises in the media, I notice a common theme appearing over and over, specifically that everyone must share the guilt. The writers do this, I think, in anticipation of government actions which will, in the main, punish the public. While this may seem a utilitarian answer and therefore the most likely to be chosen, it is morally unacceptable and will likely lead to great resentment among the many millions of Americans who are in no way responsible for causing the problems or guilty of overindulgence.

I speak as one such citizen. My house is a modest one-story home bought for $150,000 in 2005, and my car is a 12-year-old sedan with 145,000 miles on it. My wife's car is a 10-year old CRV. I pay the mortgage every month, right on time, and we paid off the cars long ago, foregoing flashy cars and luxury vehicles we could easily have bought but always put prudence ahead of ego. We pay the total balance on our credit cards each and every month, and have never spent money on anything that could be called an extravagance. What's significant is, pretty much everyone in my subdivision could say the same - we work hard for our money and are careful not to buy things we cannot pay for, and we do not cheat anyone. We work hard and build for the future, the future we promised to our children. And I would dare to say we would resent the hell out of being expected to pay for the sins of others, since our children would end up suffering through no fault of their own. I will not help a thief, even and especially if he sits in a taxpayer-provided seat in Washington, D.C.

This is the hard nut at the center of the mortgage, banking, and auto crisis. There are people who took gambles, spent money they knew they did not have and who ignored every warning sign, confident that if everything fell apart, they could still cajole someone else to cover for them. People who buy homes they knew they could not pay for, should not be able to keep them. Companies which made deals they knew would cripple them without government help should simply not receive that bailout. Investors who bought financial instruments and now want someone else to eat the risk that came with their deal should be made to accept the consequences, the full consequences, of their own decision. People who have been careful and frugal should be rewarded, but frankly no one else. And at some point I think the message will be obvious - reward and protect the people who did the right thing, and put the cost on the ones who spent where there was no money, and chose to gamble instead of being careful in their savings and investments. No one has offered to pay me what I lost in stocks I own and I accept that as valid, since I took the risk along with the hope of gain when I bought those stocks. But if a politician plans to slam my kids because it's a fix that will help him get re-elected, especially with special-interest groups that not only have no interest in changing their behavior or repaying for the damage they did, but who have shown no contrition in the first place for doing what they knew was wrong, well that politician, be he congressman, senator, or even president, is in for a world of hurt, because for all the hype, people can still tell right from wrong, and making innocent people pay for the sins of the guilty is something that should be rejected by all good people, and I think in the end it will be rejected, along with all the mandarins and con men in Washington trying to shill it off on us.


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Comments (38)

Now you are being racist. ... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Now you are being racist. You are being unfair to those poor people who want to do better and just didnt use the right judgement. Why should they be punished for a society that tries to keep them down? I mean maybe they were abused as children and they needed a house they couldnt afford to assauge their battered self esteem. Would you have them thrown out in the cold if they cant pay their morgage? After all is it really their fault that someone gave them a loan when they knew they didnt have a job or couldnt pay the mortgage. It obviously isnt their fault and they shouldnt have to suffer for it. You are just being a cold cruel mean person. You should help those people by payig their mortgage as well through increased taxes. And while you are at it buy them new furniture as well.
After all not everyone can get up and go to work every day. It just isnt in some people's makeup. They shouldnt have to work if they dont want to. We as a society should pull them up and show them that it is alright if they dont want to work. We should be obligated to give them health care as well. And a college education, and they should get a degree even if they dont want to study because we know that schools are inherently prejudiced against the disadvantaged. Why should something like a grade be used to reflect someone's worth to society. We are kind enough to take care of them. It takes a village.

I scratch my head every day... (Below threshold)
MPR:

I scratch my head every day trying to figure out how more than half the country voted for a man and a party that was, and is saying that it is our fault. We are to greedy and consume to much. We should expect to sacrifice for the common good. It is patriotic to pay higher taxes and that the money is better spent by the government than you and I. It's not that we are passing it on to our children but, the country is going to feel the pain much sooner than that with Obamalala's plan. I talk to people that are smart and run their successful business' well and their personal finances well. They don't don't have an answer when I ask them if they could run things the way the government does? Would they hire people and entrust their company's well being and families to people like the ones they voted for? For smart people I get some stupid sounding responses.

"...everyone must share the... (Below threshold)
tyree:

"...everyone must share the guilt." they say!

Of course, the illegal immigrants who cost California $10 Billion a year are guilty of nothing.

Orwell would weep. "Newspeak" was supposed to be a bad thing, and the journalists got it wrong.

double-plus ungood.... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

double-plus ungood.

"share the guilt"?? No, how... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

"share the guilt"?? No, how about "I'll accept resposibility for MY transgressions".

I categorically REFUSE to feel guilt for someone else's mistakes.

Somebody gets it. I rail a... (Below threshold)
Robert Miller:

Somebody gets it. I rail at the MSN when I read the stories about how it is our fault that the U.S. is in the state it is in. I pay my bills, I am not extravagant, and I plan for the future (or at least I did till the latest financial debacle that almost wiped out my retirement accounts.) I give to charity, both to help others and to help myself. I vote (though sometimes it seems that my vote doesn't mean anything.) I help my fellow man. I don't take handouts, and never have. I supported my country as a soldier for 22+ years and never understood why someone who receives the blessings of being an American would not feel the need to protect our freedoms.

....I am looking forward to... (Below threshold)

....I am looking forward to being issued stock and getting a mighty hefty dividend from our stellar 'government' upon them using MY frikkin' tax dollars in this blind wild goose chase.

The State is the great fict... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

I do not owe money to *anyone* except the state of Florida every two weeks for child support. I drive a '94 with 129k mi and have a '86 with 195k mi as a backup. I pay my bills on time and if I want something I save up to buy it.

I was unemployed from January to December of this year and I still managed to cover my expenses. Modest living is not a crime, living beyond one's means and then expecting others to pay for it when it all goes south should be.

It used to be called 'starting over', now its called 'bailout' with no guilt associated.

Personally, I'm tired of the whiners and cheats that expect me to help support their bad choices and habits.

You claim you're not guilty... (Below threshold)
stevesturm:

You claim you're not guilty... but did you demand your elected representatives put an end to the abuses in the housing market? Did you scream for the SEC and the Fed to regulate hedge funds and credit default swaps that contributed to the problems we're now having? When Bush's so-called efforts to rein in Fannie and Freddie were being thwarted by the Democrats, did you call for Bush to go to the mattresses, to fight as hard for this as you encouraged him to fight for keeping troops in Iraq? You may not have participated directly in the same way as others, but your silence makes you guilty... not as much, but still guilty.

And while nobody wants to bail out those who bought more house than they could afford, most of what is being done now is not done with the intent of bailing them out, but instead bailing you out, of preventing a bigger problem that could lead to your losing your job, house and what is left of your investments. There are an awful lot of people who are being hurt, people who played by the rules, but are being hurt nonetheless by the ripple effects of the housing and credit collapse. The question is thus: do you feel strongly enough about punishing those who screwed up that you want to risk getting pulled down in the eddy?

Now there are some who say that the risks to the system are being overblown in order to take advantage of the crisis (don't let a good crisis go to waste)... but how lucky do you feel that they're wrong?

Thank you, D.J. I have been... (Below threshold)
d. nelson:

Thank you, D.J. I have been waiting for someone to express my opinion and feelings on the economic mess we face. I am well past "retirement age" and will finally retire very soon. Last year it looked like we would have a somewhat comfortable retirement with a modest home almost paid for. We have been frugal and saved for many years; but now we're anxious and concerned. I still do have some hope that the economy will bounce back in the next year or so - if Congress will keep its hands off!

As usual Steve, you are com... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

As usual Steve, you are completely wrong yet completely noisy and arrogant about it.

Go back to your koolaid and Captain Obama fantasy cartoons, and let the adults talk. Every comment you put up is proof that your parents need a NetNanny.

DJ, very good article. I al... (Below threshold)
Allen:

DJ, very good article. I also cover all my expenses each month, try and find bargains when purchasing items, including food.

The housing mess was caused by many different people, from rich to poor, shady loan officers doing false/changed applications for a home loan, etc. And yes, some very stupid first time home buyers, plus people buying and holding a house to resale for fast money.

But IMO, the real crooks responsible is not just one political party, but both. And it didn't start with President Bush, it goes all the way back to Ike. It just continued to grow and grow, now we have the mess we are in.

So how is it going to be fixed? That is the question that needs to be addressed. It's funny there isn't more foreclosed homes on the market than there is, due to declining jobs, wages, etc.

But to blame one political party is stupid, it took both parties, working behind closed doors to get this done, along with the banks and mortgage companies and other special interests.

So if I'm wrong, please enl... (Below threshold)
stevesturm:

So if I'm wrong, please enlighten me as to how...

did you raise a ruckus while the abuses were going on? did you write a single post on the subject? make a single phone call to your Congressman, Senator or the President who you so adore demanding that they act?

Steve, I e-mailed my congre... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Steve, I e-mailed my congressman and Senators and other states Reps. about the pork spending and waste. B.F(Barney Frank), C.D.(Chris Dodd) and the other Dems on the committees that are charged with oversight told us that everything was "peachey" and no need to worry. Yeah, right.

In case you haven't noticed... (Below threshold)
James:

In case you haven't noticed Mr Drummond, this is Christmas, a time for giving and for forgiving. THough you have made a few valid points, your piece is completely lacking in sensitivity and totally devoid of Christian principles. In fact, I can picture any one of Dicken's more obnoxious self satisfied characters penning this.

Your attitude, is basically, well it's not my problem, so sod it! It's called the blame game.Nice. Just remember, not everybody deliberately overstretched themselves. There are some unfortunate victims here as well. I hope you, never fall on Hard Times!

I generally like your pieces, but this piece has to be the most self righteous, santimonious piece of rubbish that I read for a long time. Merry Christmas

Steve, the only way you're ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Steve, the only way you're wrong is in expecting rational answers on Wizbang. See, if you disagree with the authors or echo chambers here, or point out something they may not have considered, you are a "loony" who needs to "stop drinking the kool aid" and "go back to your Captain Obama cartoons." Their huge inferiority complexes prevent them from responding to what you actually write; instead they post "witty" retorts to what they WISH you wrote.
Don't expect to change minds here. But if you, like me, enjoy giving conservatives little pinpricks from time to time, there are worse places.

Anybody else amused by the ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Anybody else amused by the fact that, despite their pompous demands that their comments be answered to their satisfaction, Bruce and James managed to miss the topic and point of the article itself?

No threat to Hawking, these 'geniuses'.

DJ,James can keep hi... (Below threshold)
MPR:

DJ,
James can keep his "social Gospel". I've argued with many of those proponents over the years to no avail. And Bruce well, nothing more to add.

You got me, DJ. I ac... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

You got me, DJ.
I acknowledge that the point of this post is that you are the VeryVirtuous HardWorking EveryMan, and that anyone who finds himself in difficulty in the current financial meltdown deserves only scorn and derision. Sorry I missed that at first.
Oh, and that you are privy to the financial details in the lives of everybody in your subdivision.

Ah DJYou are just ... (Below threshold)
James:

Ah DJ

You are just to clever for us!

Get off your sanctimonious high horse before you are thrown off. The world would indeed be a much better place if everybody was as responsible as you, all be it considerably duller as well. However, I suggest you think for a moment, about other's misfortune before patting yourself on the back for your good fortune.

James,Spoken like a ... (Below threshold)
MPR:

James,
Spoken like a true citizen of Obamalala land. Hard work and responsibility just means we hit the lottery of life and should be grateful to the state. If that is sanctimony, I want more.

MPRNot at all. I a... (Below threshold)
James:

MPR

Not at all. I am not an Obama fan, but, what I can tell you, is that your slur is a rather ridiculous attempt at partisan politics.

What I find particularly galling about this piece is that it is St Stephen's Day, a time for thinking of the less fortunate, not exacerbating their misery by holding them to account. There is many a person suffering from the economic environment and not all of them are responsible for their predicament.

DJ's piece is ill conceived, spiteful and completely lacking in any kind of humanity, and as for timing, well no more need be said.

Moreover, having read DJ's pieces over the years, he gives the impression that he is well heeled, and lives a very good life, that is, he moves in the right circles. Bah humbug!

James lies as badly as he p... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

James lies as badly as he pretends to understand the subject. Those who have read my work know that I have a mortgage, put one daughter through school, my wife and I both work to pay the bills, we both drive old cars, and my costs include cancer treatment. "Well heeled" is a fiction and could only be created by someone whose contact with Reality is tentative at best.

James, you are stupid, malicious, mendacious, and do not know when to stop flinging the feces which just rebounds back onto your communist-wanna-be hide.

As to the "unfortunates", anyone with the reading comprehension of a 2nd grader or better grasped that my complaint, like so many people with real lives, was that people who spent money indulging themselves, including investment bankers and AFL-CIO officials, expect to be taken care of by the people who were careful not to waste money or take huge risks with someone else's savings. That you still fail to grasp this is a reminder that the public education system in Guanoville must not be up to par, either.

James nothing partisan abou... (Below threshold)
MPR:

James nothing partisan about it. You appear to be using the Obamalala land's definition of well heeled as opposed to not well heeled. Which is none of your business, nor mine. Unlike you I hold it against no one to be successful in what they do, as long as it is legal of course. You are also confusing personal response through charities or church with what the government should or shouldn't do. The government has become a guarantor against any one's failure. That's not supposed to be governments job.

And James/Bruce seem to hav... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

And James/Bruce seem to have an interesting definition of "unfortunate". That is, if you bought a house or car you damn well knew you could not afford, that's not your fault and you should get help, but if you were careful and made sure not to spend money you did not have, then you are "well heeled" and should have your taxes raised ... to pay for someone whose house and car are clothes are likely newer and better than yours, but paid for with YOUR money.

James whined quite a bit about people who need help, assuming that no one is already helping. He conveniently forgets that conservatives have been proven to give more to charities than "progressives" do, and that there are millions of people working right now to help folks who need help in different ways. Mr. 'sure he knows so much' missed my charity work, because I DO NOT TALK ABOUT PRIVATE DECISIONS. Bragging is for Obama-types.

Ah DJWhen I referr... (Below threshold)
James:

Ah DJ

When I referred to you as "well heeled", I was being sarcastic in the extreme. You are far from well heeled. However, you sound like a very rsponsible person, though bitter and twisted. Harping on about conversatives Vs progressives, is beyond boring.

Enjoying, the festive season? I guess not!

Sarcastic? You misundersta... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Sarcastic? You misunderstand the word. Among many others, apparently.

Was Jethro Bodine a class mate of yours, or was he your teacher?

Sorry to leave the Insult S... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Sorry to leave the Insult Swap. I had to go to my second job (Fun Fact: liberals work hard, too!)
DJ, I only responded to Stevesturm's comment because instead of addressing his questions, you called him stupid and told him to "go back to his Captain Obama fantasy cartoons," which is typical for you and the commenters here.
As far as "James/Bruce" having an interesting definition of "unfortunate", please go back and re-read. Did I use that word, or even address that subject? Why do you conflate anyone who quibbles with you into one person, and attribute the same motives to all?
I happen to agree with you, mostly, on the subject of personal responsibility. God knows no one helps me except family if I'm in trouble. My beef with you is the way you attack with insults anyone who criticises your posts. I kinda thought that was the freaking point of a comments section.
If you guys want nothing but attaboys and echoes, make it policy.

Not Guilty here too.<... (Below threshold)
Baggi:

Not Guilty here too.

Kinda stinks really. I put down a very large sum of money on my home.

Had I just financed 100% of the money my house cost me, invested the rest, or let it sit in a bank account, I could then choose today to give it bank to the bank at no cost to myself.

Instead, I was responsible and then the government came along and bailed out my neighbor who was not.

Now he's encouraged to go and do it again.

All you Rugged Individualis... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

All you Rugged Individualists who operate on the philosophy of "I got mine, so screw my neighbor" need to go back and re-read Comment #9 by stevesturm, especially the SECOND PARAGRAPH.
While it may be galling to see irresponsibility get rewarded, I'd rather help a few undeserving recipients than see the whole world's economy end up in the ditch.
Wouldn't you? Or would that offend your sense of ideological purity?

Bruce, More liberal ... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Bruce,
More liberal definitions from Obamalala land. Free market capitalists that believe hard work and the right to a profit are a filthy, selfish, rugged individualists that don't believe in the common good. Shame on us. I can hardly look at myself in the mirror this morning.

I am 100% in agreement. 3 ... (Below threshold)
rmonihan Author Profile Page:

I am 100% in agreement. 3 years ago, I upgraded my home, selling my old one and buying a another in a nicer neighborhood. I had the savings and income to support this choice, even realizing that a property downturn was imminent.

I have never held debt other than a mortgage. I have savings in the bank, even now. Interestingly, I make LESS today than I did 10 years ago, and I am saving more. That is with 2 children and a better home. How can I do this? Well, let's just say most people have a tendency to LIVE UP to their income and buy things they don't need. A smaller income level has taught me to learn how to do without things I don't need and maximize what I have.

I am not a believer in the "Depression Scenario" currently popular around the intertubes and with MSM journalists. I see the current situation as difficult, but not bleak. Our income, while lower, is still OK - recognizing many others have lost their livelihood. I have turned down 3 jobs in the last 2 months - so jobs are out there.

Our income is going further, with gas at $1.40 a gallon in our area. We are saving $200 a month. Heating oil is down to $2.34 - from $4.25 - saving us another $200 a month.

This money we are giving to the profligate (banks, auto firms, $500k homeowners who were making $30k a year) SHOULD come to people like you and me. The government, IF it were to "bail out" anybody (which it shouldn't), SHOULD come to you and me and give us a 2% mortgage so the extra money would allow us to go out and boost the economy with the extra money we'd get. 2% mortgage would give me almost $2,000 extra a month - allowing me to buy a new car, take a vacation, and put money in the bank.

I am amazed at the stupidity of our politicians - giving unaccountable funds to people who waste huge amounts of money and bankrupt their companies. Give it to me. I know how to manage money. Oh yeah, and I'm honest, too.

MPR:Why do you insis... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

MPR:
Why do you insist on arguing with me about things I DIDN'T FREAKING SAY? WTF is wrong with your reading skills?
It's not just me. Seems like every time you comment it's in rebuttal to points nobody made!
By the way, there's something to what rmonihan said.

Thank you, Mr Drummond! </p... (Below threshold)
Brian Richard Allen:

Thank you, Mr Drummond!

Well said!

Hear! Hear!

(Are you listening, B Hussein??)

Brian Richard Allen
Los Angeles - CaliUBAMAcated 90028 -- & the Far Abroad

Bruce,Calm down. I c... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Bruce,
Calm down. I can read just fine. I have always been sensitive to words people use to frame an argument. By doing so they try to stifle debate, or at least open, honest debate. I once was a card carrying union member and moderate liberal so I've heard most of them.
I have collected hundreds of articles on global warming before it was the liberals battle cry to save earth. Articles that try to push the "theory" of Global warming are a veritable plethora of "liberal speak".
Here are some examples of "liberal speak" and the definitions. "Invest" as in, "We are going to invest in education programs to improve the skills of our children." The definition,"We are going to throw more tax dollars down a rat hole with no meaningful return to please the teachers union and how could you possibly be against improving education you conservative, racist jerk."
Here is one I pick up all the time in liberal news reporting. "Last night an SUV jumped the curb and killed two people and injured four....
Instead of, "A man driving while intoxicated lost control of his SUV and jumped the curb....
SUV's to liberals have a killer instinct. They are gas guzzling, carbon spewing, horribly wasteful cars that no one "should" have the right to own let alone drive. I have more but, by now your eyes are probably glazing over.
BTW, I agree with rmonihan if giving comes in the form of tax cuts across the board.

OK, MPR, now please ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

OK, MPR,
now please quote me using the words "invest", "SUV", "gas guzzling", or any other examples of what you term "liberal-speak." Who the hell mentioned "global warming"??! When did I call anyone "filthy" or "selfish"??!
Your comments seem to me to be an excuse to use the inane and juvenile term "Obamalala Land" at every opportunity.
What I have repeatedly said is that I would rather see a few undeserving people get help - galling as it may be, and emphasis on a FEW - than see the world's economy collapse. So call me loony, but stop responding to words I didn't write, please.

Bruce,If we follow l... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Bruce,
If we follow liberal economic policies the world economy will collapse. La La land is the only place liberal policies work and people that voted for Obamalala live in that world. He has no idea how to get this economy going. Otherwise he would have indicated how he would do it. The fact that you want to stifle what I say tells me you are a liberal. I on the other hand will never ask you to stop commenting no matter what you say.

You're still doing it, dude... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

You're still doing it, dude. I don't want to "stifle what you say", I'm just trying to get you to address what I actually said, rather than respond to what I didn't say. I'm just asking you not to begin your comments with

Bruce,

if you just want to say "Obamalala" over and over again. Knock yourself out, but please refrain from addressing me while speaking gibberish. That's all I'm saying.




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