The Bailout Blame Game

Unless you’ve lived under a rock over the last year, you’ve heard our economy is in a heap of trouble mainly due to mortgages our country’s homebuyers can’t pay for. And if you actually have lived under a rock, I salute you for not being part of the problem.

So who’s to blame? Oh, there’s plenty to go around alright. Jimmy Carter? Ronald Reagan? Bill Clinton? George Bush? Franklin Raines? Jamie Gorelick? Chris Dodd? Barney Frank? Phil Graham? The plethora of banks? Wall street? Predatory lendors?

Let me share a reader’s comment I found online while reading Bankruptcy, not Bailout, is the Right Answer that I believe encompasses the mindset of many American citizens:

Perhaps you should spend less time criticizing individuals for taking chances at success, and instead focus your unwarranted hostility at the corporations that took advantage of those people. It is perhaps quite easy for you to be so smug, when it may not be you that would rely on such a system in the first place.
Americans are struggling every day, and instead of acknowledging that and trying to understand the situation — you refer to them as “stupid”. I beg to differ, these individuals are losing everything because of corporate, and government, greed… not stupidity.
I would suggest that in the future you spend less time attacking the people that are suffering, and place a little more focus on the cause of the problem.
Within the scope of your mindset it was not Hitler and the Nazi regime that was responsible for the Holocaust, but the Jewish people for being Jewish.

When will we start accepting responsibility for our own actions? When will we start to understand that being a Jew in the Holocaust is different than borrowing more than we can afford? Who’s fault is this mess? Sure, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 allowed credit-unworthy citizens to take out loans over their heads at sub-prime levels. Yes, Jimmy Carter was the one who signed it, Bill Clinton was the one who enforced it, and George Bush didn’t do anything about it. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and banks throughout the country did indeed enhance the problem due to greed and lax oversight. Does this excuse us from the responsibility of wisely managing our own money?

Let me illustrate. If every bank around the country said, “Hey, come on in. You qualify for a billion dollar loan and here it is! It’s a 30-year mortgage locked in at today’s mortgage rates. Nah, don’t worry about your credit. Here’s the check. Enjoy your new home!” Today’s market, in my view, proves the average American would spend more of that billion dollars than he/she could actually afford. But who’s fault is it? The lender’s fault, of course! How dare they put a billion dollars in front of my nose! Take it or leave it, that’s what’s happened. That’s our society.

Over the last couple weeks I’ve spent about ten hours talking to lenders so I can buy a home. I’ve spent many more hours researching mortgages online and understanding the terminology. The majority of my time spent has been looking for answers to my questions. I ask questions because it’s my fault if I don’t understand what I’m getting into. It’s my responsibility to figure out how much can I afford. When the lender says I qualify for a billion dollars, it’s my responsibility to only take what I can pay back. Regardless of government policy, greedy banks, or what my neighbor owns, my loans are my responsibility.

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