Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Rant, of the Economic Variety

Dudes, so that whole costume building thing didn't take nearly as long as I anticipated. I think I did it in about 3 hours. I'll post a picture once I get it all together, or from the office hoopla on Friday.

On the agenda today: swing by the craft store and pick up a couple more clumps of that grassy stuff, hit the thrift store for something blue to wear, get my hairs cut (way overdue), then hit Target and Trader Joe's. Oh, and laundry. Sunday is typically laundry day at the Wayward house.

So, like most Americans, I've been more than a bit preoccupied by this whole economic situation we have going on and I've been collecting links to share with you, dear reader, for a week or so.

So let's start with the bailout. While I hated the idea of throwing $700 billion at the banking industry, I also understood why something needed to be done. But I can't even articulate the revulsion I felt when I read that financial workers are continuing to receive $70 billion in pay deals. Keep in mind that most of this will be given out as bonuses.

Bonuses? Bonuses for what? For completely undermining the American economy to the point of collapse? Oh wait. No. You're getting the bonus for undermining the world economy. Please, allow me to wipe your a$$ with my paycheck.

Oh, and now the clamoring is beginning for a second bailout as a second round of stimulus checks. Read here, here, here, and here. I'm sorry, but I didn't want the first one, and do we even have any evidence that the first stimulus check helped bolster the economy? Mine went toward items I would have purchased with or without the extra money, so I guess you could say my first stimulus check is still sitting in the bank.

And dudes, it's not as if it's free money. We've paid this money in taxes, and if it's being given back to us instead of being used to shore up our infrastructure that money still has to come from somewhere. Issuing more checks just adds to the national debt, and that'll all need to be paid back, plus interest, at some point.

Add to this all the talk of the government buying up bad mortgages and I get even more steamed. So what, the government is going to help out those people who took on mortgages for more house than they could afford? Should the government be responsible for this? Hell no. Look, if you're in this boat, then I'm sorry. But it is simply not my responsibility to get you out of the mess you created.

You didn't crunch the numbers for yourself. You didn't read the fine print. You didn't do your due diligence. And yeah, I get it that there were predatory lenders out there, but no one put a gun to your head and made you sign on the dotted line. You did that all on your own. Oh, I'll feel the consequences of your poor decisions when my property value drops, but I do not want to finance your ability to live beyond your means while we've been making responsible decisions to live within ours.

Now I'll grant you that there are a small handful of homeowners caught up in this mess that justly deserve to get the help, but here's what's happening; a good friend of ours is trying to refinance so she can stay in he home she purchased a few years ago. At the time, she could afford the loans. Now, as property values plummet, she's upside down on her mortgage and being laid off. Her bank says, get this, her bank tells her they can't help her refinance until she misses at least two payments on her mortgage. And they counsel her to stop paying her mortgage! WTF?

I've seen the same sentiment expressed by Paul Michael here at Wise Bread, and I have to admit, the thought has crossed my mind. And like Paul, I just can't bring myself to do it. (Thanks mom, and mom, and dad, you did good.) But it pisses me off that the people who tried to do the right thing all along are the people most being left out of any recovery or let's-fix-it plan.

All this led to a rant in the car the other day about how our society rewards mediocrity and coddles under-achievers. I've got too much to do today to work up another head of steam for that rant here. So I'll stick to the one I'm currently on.

The other day I learned about another bill making its way through Congress here. It's a Credit Card Holder Bill of Rights, or House Resolution 5244. The only piece of this legislation I think I don't like is that part that requires statements be sent out 25 days before they're due. That probably means my last payment will not be posted on the statement, which I fear will allow the credit card companies wiggle room to add financing fees. We don't carry balances on our credit cards at the Wayward house, so this really won't mean much to us. But I'm betting that a lot of other people will benefit from it and that's a good thing.

I vaguely recall taking economics courses in college, and I remember being very frustrated with the whole macro and micro thing. While it was relatively easy for me to grasp the various theories, it's much easier to apply them at the micro level. I was always challenged at the macro level by the whole what should be ideal versus the reality of what is.

So back to focusing on the micro, because that's all I really have any control over, this post over at Get Rich Slowly about what it means to be rich made me feel better and I'm thankful for all that we do have.

So I'll wrap this up with a couple not-so-funny funnies. The modern bedtime story, and the Grapes of Wrath, 2008.

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