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Owning Up

Two stories recently have been preying at the back of my brain lately, both demanding I write about them, but finally something clicked in my head on what they had in common.

First up, there was this story in yesterday's Boston Globe about unplanned pregnancies and how difficult many people find it to stay on top of their birth control.

Then, there's the tale of U.S. Representative Laura Richardson (D-CA), who has apparently bought three houses in recent years -- and has defaulted on the mortgages for all three.

In the first story, the Globe discusses the psychological challenges many women have in remembering to take the pill, tips to get past them, and suggestions for alternatives.

In the second, we see the story of a woman whose political fortunes rose at the same time her personal finances plummeted -- she rose from state representative to the US House while she bought -- and lost -- three separate houses. The implications are clear -- she used money she had pledged for mortgages, utilities, and whatnot on her political campaigns, and is now paying the price.

What do these two events have in common? Quite a bit.

Having sex and buying a house are two major personal steps in life, and often have life-changing consequences. They usually involve personal commitments that can last years and years. And if you mess them up, they're usually going to have consequences that you'll spend years and years paying for.

Is that fair?

In the first case, I think that's irrelevant. No matter what people say or do or want, there are certain facts about sex that just can't change.

Yes, birth control should be the responsibility of both partners. But should they fail, the consequences fall more severely on the woman. After all, a man can always walk away (or, at least, try to), but the woman is stuck with it.

This is reprehensible, and we are getting better at getting men to own up to their responsibilities (three cheers for DNA testing), but the fact remains: should the two of them mess up, she's going to have to live with it far more than he is. It's a fact of nature.

In the second case, it seems fairly clear that Representative Richardson was probably speculating in real estate, counting on housing prices to continue to rise as her political fortunes did so. And now that that hasn't happened, and she's paying that price now.

In both cases, there is a push to exonerate the people who are paying the price for their poor choices. Some Democrats in Congress are pushing a "freeze" on home foreclosures for those who have fallen behind in their payments, and with birth control, there is more and more emphasis on making sex as consequence-free as possible, right up to the point of late-term abortions.

Now, I'm hardly an exemplar of personal responsibility, especially financially. But I have had a bare minimum of common sense, and I've made a point of limiting my potential liabilities in both areas. I have never even considered buying a house, and many years ago I took a very cold, very dispassionate, very rational look at my own medical conditions (and how many of them are genetic) and realized that I had absolutely no desire to risk inflicting those on a child, and underwent a very simple (but, for a couple of days, somewhat painful) surgery to make sure that that would never happen.

It seems, to me, that the government is becoming the solution to far too many problems -- and "problems" is being redefined as "the logical -- albeit unpleasant -- consequences of poor individual choices."

That's fine and dandy, if you're the one who's being bailed out of your problems. But the catch there is, it usually costs the government money. And here's one little detail that those who push such "solutions" often neglect to mention -- the government doesn't have any money of its own. All the money it has, it takes from us.

That means that even though I have ben careful to not put myself in certain predicaments, I still get to pay for those mistakes made by other people. And what do I get for my money in those cases?

Certainly not any consolation that those we are bailing out will learn any lessons. Certainly not any gratitude. Certainly not any promises that this will be the last time that the responsible ones will be tasked with rescuing the irresponsible ones.

I think the current pop psychology term for this is "enablement."

I guess we'll just have to content ourselves with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with the knowledge that we helped out our neighbors. And the anticipation that we'll surely be called upon to do it again.

And again.

And again.


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Comments (13)

Bravo.I could suppor... (Below threshold)

I could support a low-interest loan fund to help people get back on their feet, but freedom means living with the consequences of choices. When the government pays for mistakes, it should have the right to dictate behavior, and that's not freedom,

Sorry, this is kind of long... (Below threshold)

Sorry, this is kind of long, but it was pertinent:

I saw that lack of wanting to accept responsibility for one's actions in a conversation I had yesterday. I was discussing with a friend the merits of capitalism while he touted socialism.

To boil it all down, he was of the mind that a socialist government would be best. That the poor and middle class would fare better and the rich would be brought down a notch. This, to him, was a far more equitable approach to social and fiscal equality and it would work if "rich people would just get over their greed".

By deduction, the poor and middle class wanting or taking from others with more is not "greed".

I argued that capitalism was best and I had no problem with a certain level and type of social programs thrown into the mix. He argued for what he said was "pure socialism". In essence, he said if you contributed you could stay and if you didn't, you got thrown out to die. (Now there's compassion for ya, eh?) That socialist countries will fail because they're not doing it right.

As his argument degraded, which is often the case with many who find they're losing their argument, he began to make assumptions about me personally and to exaggerate other points.

He's about to lose his house, although not because of the recent mortgage issues. He's divorced with 2 children. When I suggested he find another part time job, he exaggerated, (These are his exact words) "So I should work 16-18 hours a day and never see my kids? I'm already enough of a slave. I'd rather die."

He works 25-28 hours a week.

When he made an implication that I argued for capitalism because I'm rich, - "It's easy to say if you're rich," - I told him I was decidedly middle-class and I could sympathize with him as I had struggled to raise two children as a single mother and could never afford to even buy a home. He then tried to tell me that I was making his argument for him.

Him: "See? You're making my argument for me."

Me: "How?"

Him: "Well, if you're working, you should be able to afford a place to stay."

Me: "Who said I didn't have a place to stay?"

I explained that I was in that position because of a series of decisions I had made in my life; not because of any social inequities.

The last thing he said was that his predicament was not his fault because of any of his decisions. Unfortunately for him, I already knew too much about him to know that was not true. He made decisions alright; he dropped out of school, married a woman of poor character, had two kids with her and bought a house. Now he expects he should be able to keep it on a part time income.

If the rich would only get over their greed.

The left seems to think suc... (Below threshold)

The left seems to think success is pure luck, so, they want to punish those 'richer' than them. They seem to think where we end up in life is by pure circumstance, not choice.

A pity so many miss out on so much waiting for their Uncle Sam to deliver for them.

Today's libs would be extinct if this were the early 1800's. They'd sit around all year, waiting for the govt gravy train, while everyone else was planting crops, raising animals, etc, preparing for the coming winter.

Secondly, Im 'shocked' that the lib media hasnt jumped on the Richardson story. Guess she'd have to have an (R) after her name for this to be newsworthy.

Another corollary: we enab... (Below threshold)

Another corollary: we enable rather than raise children to be dependent rather than independent.

And another: While a good proportion of health care in this nation deals with self-inflicted (poor choices by the individual) maladies, I perceive a much greater proportion in those receiving their insurance through entitlements. Whether entitled or not, the response is more likely to be "I can't help [myself] it, I need a pill to stop me [smoking, overeating, drinking, using drugs, behaving badly] and the last one you gave me didn't work," than "OK, I know I need to change, how do you advise me to be successful? I promise to listen and try harder this time."

Laura Richardson is a bum..... (Below threshold)

Laura Richardson is a bum...or bumette, take your pick. It's just that simple. Being a good lib democrat, there will of course be no reprisals for her total lack of honor. And as is so very typical of the breed, she is now blaming mortgage lenders for her plight, along with her very tough and demanding schedule. Aren't we non-politicians lucky to have such easy, slow-moving lives! Oh well, find any NY Times article commenting on a problematic situation of any kind and you are likely to see the words "women and minorities hardest huit." Clearly just another $170,000/yr victim.

My husband and I went from ... (Below threshold)

My husband and I went from being upper-middle class to lower middle-class due to his job moving overseas. We're not pouting or thinking the government should help us. This is still a land of opportunity. We're capitalists. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats. He got a new job and I got an additional job. Life's better and we're finally getting ahead again; but our problem was never the government's problem.

My husband and I went fr... (Below threshold)

My husband and I went from being upper-middle class to lower middle-class due to his job moving overseas.

I would say that you've already received enough 'help' from the government. I'm currently in the middle of steering our company towards overseas manufacturing. Why? Because the shareholders are greedy? Because the CEO has an opulent compensation plan? Actually, none of the above. The truth is that America is no longer the free economy it once was. We are being taxed into oblivion, restricted by to the point of absurdity, and reviled because we are in this to make a profit. We can no longer meet our operating objectives.

Four countries have economies that are more free than the US (Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and Australia, in order). They understand the importance of attracting business as a means of creating wealth by nurturing the source: Corporations. These countries don't view corporations as evil. We don't want to leave, we're being forced to.

These jobs that are leaving our shores? Thank your representatives in Congress the next time you talk to them.

creating wealth by nurtu... (Below threshold)

creating wealth by nurturing the source: Corporations.

Y'know, that's just wrong and I apologize. The source of wealth is not corporations. God is the source of wealth and individuals are the stewards of that wealth. Individuals, in turn, create corporations. Corporations are a source of jobs.

Alright then. Carry on!

I believe in a meritocracy.... (Below threshold)

I believe in a meritocracy. All of my ancestors have, and I'm making sure my kids do.

Getting handouts from the govt is no different to me than cheating on a test in school. Sure, its works for today but, sooner or later, one has to rely on themselves. what then?

I'm currently looking into opening up a corp overseas to 'pull a kennedy', which is to put money offshore so as to avoid these lib Socialists to steal more from me via taxation.

God is the source of wea... (Below threshold)
David B:

God is the source of wealth

Clay, that is wrong as well.

Your faith is the source of God.

Wealth is created by hard work, either yours or that of your employees if you own or run a corporation.

Case #1: Keep your legs clo... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Case #1: Keep your legs closed.

Case #2: Democrats are bad for the economy.

Problems solved.

Clay, we're doing much bett... (Below threshold)

Clay, we're doing much better due to the fact that we're working for ourselves--not someone else.

...and I never put the Cong... (Below threshold)

...and I never put the Congresscritters that are currently in there in office.






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