Seperation of American Concerns

by Jon Davis 29. September 2008 17:40

I'm going to post a non-technical and non-career related entry now and comment on the state of our nation, the United States of America. I'm only posting here now because I haven't gotten around to putting up a personal blog yet, and I'm not sure that I ever will.

I am a fellow with a lot of emotional baggage. I have a lot of opinions, a lot of hurts, and a lot of reasons to feel lonely or sad. I don't know if three months from now I'll even have a home, because my current job is a short-term contract gig. Yet, at this precise moment I'm sitting comfortably in front of a new 28" monitor that I bought for myself a few weeks ago, on a nice, equally new office chair with suede fabric, typing on a cool little Mac Mini in my home office, while three other PCs are humming in the living room--a laptop, an HTPC, and a music / gaming / development workstation. My stomach is full. There's gas in my car .. and indeed, I have a car. So, who cares if I've felt grumpy lately? Not a soul in the world; I have every reason to be satisfied in life, because today I am comfortable.

These circumstances in my personal life are a lot like America's circumstances on the whole right now. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. People have fear. But right now, there's still an economy going out there, and even if things get a lot worse than they are now, we'll still be an insanely comfortable nation. We might be shifting from a plush extremity to normalcy. This shift is true of housing prices, especially. Greedy people are facing losses. Wiser people are going to be challenged. But look at us. Who should really feel sorry for us if we lose some of our wealth? Now, granted, other countries are going to suffer from America's so-called "losses". But frankly I think the whole situation is a lot more dramatic than real.

The thing to keep in mind about this situation is that it's primarily related to the greedy home buying that went on in the beginning and middle of this decade, and the greedy banks that wanted to be in on it, too. I myself got sucked into it because there was just so much greed, greed was the popular thing, and with my rental apartment converting to a condo, I didn't want to move. I never dreamed, moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, that I'd "own" (or rather, pretend to own, having a mortgage with no equity) a home of my own that was "worth" (at mortgage value) a quarter of a million dollars. Frankly, I can't afford it, I'll never afford it. It's a second-floor apartment, not a mansion with a yard and a fence. Yet, I've refused to throw myself into foreclosure just because the real value is less than the mortgage. That's exactly the action, multiplied by tens of millions of bad citizens, that put us into this mess to begin with. I am a firm believeer in doing what's right on principle, no matter the cost, and that means if you take a risk, face your own consequences.

The world does not owe me a standard of living. I was lucky enough to have the opportunities I've had, and then I chose to take advantage of them as much as I could. But now if those opportunities are taken from me, it is selfish lunacy for me to bicker and argue and demand that the world restore the opportunity before me again, immediately. What motivates a mind to believe that the world owes us anything is only gluttony of selfishness and greed.

The role of government in our society was never meant to be a panacea. The failure/refusal of Legislation to pass the bailout bill today--a bill that would have rewarded the most greedy men in our nation with "free" money (loan, I assume)--really gave me a sense of relief today. I am not a Democrat nor a Republican. But I am offended that Republicans call themselves "conservatives" when they blow as much money as they do. And I'm equally scared of Democrats who seem to be insistent to convert our nation into a socialist state.

People compare this nation's circumstances and the potential circumstances to come with the Great Depression. I tend to think it more likely that we will go into war with another Hitler. It's just not going to happen right now. There are two really good reasons why.

First, this is not a stock market crash, this is a real estate crash. The home prices were out of control. But when the dust settles, there's something different about real estate versus stock: real property. Unlike a business that will fold once it loses funds, a home doesn't just vanish into thin air once it forecloses. Like bars of gold, a home retains most of its genuine value, simply by being. Ultimately, it will eventually balance out. As for the banks that are in the middle of this mess, they, too, were going out of control. I have no less than three credit cards in my wallet right now, when theoretically I really only need just one (or none?). The consumerism in this nation was also out of control, and in saying that I'm pointing at myself, too. Now in the area of investments, this is a GREAT time to invest in things of high retainability (real estate, commodities, etc.), I think. Things are going to get a lot "worse" the next several months, but the more things go down the more happy I am, because investment deals are looking more and more attractive. We should all be celebrating and investing, because the tide comes and goes routinely with frequency.

Second, communications, transportation, technology, and economic education have created an unbreakable mesh framework for our nation's infrastructure. The Great Depression's worst case scenarios happened because buyers and sellers could not communicate, people with supplies could not reach people in need, silence multiplied panic and pessimism, and ignorance fueled one bad business decision after another. You can tell our banks to eat their own fat. That's not going to bring down the businesses who have properly planned and are not built on stock revenue, or loans handed out to people who had no intention to swallow their own risk.

But the reason for the title of this article is because, frankly, the banks' own foolishness and greed is not something that deserves to be rewarded with hand-outs, any more than I deserve to have my mortgage dropped just so I can go on to the next cheapest home in this buy-low market. I took a risk, and I'm going to face my own consequences, not ask society to pay for my choices. And the people who walked away from their homes who wouldn't have done so if only their home value remained the same as their mortgage value do not deserve a break, either. If you buy a home, you make an investment at your own risk. Society doesn't owe you anything.

Granted, the role of government is to maintain peace and order, and a troubled economy is understandably a topic of concern for government. But to hand out money to the foolish decision makers who dug their own hole, just for them, is not going to help the problem, it's only going to reward the fools and teach them that they can be such greedy fools, and that everyone else, not them, has to pay for their excess. The bailout proposal would have left me, the home buyer who was willing to see this bad mortgage through for years to come, at a severely unfair loss, as those who simply walked away from their homes were rewarded. 

Alright, fine, the banks, not the people who walked away from their homes, would be seeking recovery; the people who walked away already did the walking, and now the banks are left in the cold. I have no pity for them. They chose their risks. Besides, it was the private banks that introduced fiat money and the income tax, to begin with. The income tax goes right back to the Federal Reserve, which is a private banking cartel including the likes of JP Morgan / Chase, to cover the cost of loan interest from congressional over-spending. This was the banks' design.

Personally if I had any say in the matter--I don't, but if I did--I'd say, let the banks ride out their own mess, and get back to work making money without loans. Quit borrowing money, and learn to save money instead.

Actually, the best thing Americans can do for the banks as well as for themselves, right now, is to start saving money in a savings account. The whole reason why we're in this mess is because of banks' lack of liquid assets. I think what a good Presidential leader should have done, instead of what ours did, is to ask the American people to start putting money into the banks today, rather than rely on taxes tomorrow, with all their overhead, as a way to balance the problem out.

Let the government focus on our safety. Let the banks suffer their own grief. I do not want to be party to a socialist society; that's just one step away from communism, and we're close enough to that as things already are.

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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