Over the last couple of years there have been major assaults to our economy. No one can escape the news out of Wall Street where failures of once proud and strong companies seem to be occurring on a daily basis. Gas prices are a huge issue for nearly every American as prices seem to soar regardless of what the price of oil is doing. More than just a few people have been affected by the mortgage meltdown after family after family has seen their mortgage reset to a much higher rate. Lots of people are crying foul.
I have a hard time pinning all these problems on the government. I can’t bring myself to blame Bush who now seems to take the brunt of every criticism for just about anything bad that happens. I don’t think we should blame Carter or Clinton either. Though our politicians are to blame for policy such as Immigration, free trade, etc., we always look for a scapegoat when things go bad, rarely looking in the mirror for the answer. I don’t care if you vote for Obama or McCain (well, I do but that’s beside the point for this article.) It doesn’t matter who walks the halls of the White House, things will always be more or less the same when it comes to money.
So who’s to blame, who’s fault is it? I’ll tell you who I think we should blame. We should blame ourselves. We live to consume and we expect to consume whatever our little hearts desire. What captures our eyes today, we acquire today, by any means necessary. It is OUR RIGHT to consume, or so we think and act. “I’m American, I’m rich,” we seem to scream as we buy, buy, buy. It’s an oxymoron, in my opinion, to see and hear people complaining about the government and how it got us into this mess. It aggravates me to listen to people as they expect the government to do more for them, to give them more freebies, to have more tax cuts, to create more programs. I hear about health insurance and how millions are unable to afford it. Politicians cast blame on other politicians because Americans don’t have what they need, that houses are being taken away, that the economy is a mess.
But I have to take a step back and look at all of this through clear glasses. Our “right” to consume has created a sense of expectancy among Americans. We expect to get what we want, when we want it regardless of our financial position to obtain it. I’ve heard people complain about not having money to buy gas or buy health insurance and blaming Bush or the government for the position in which they find themselves.
Yet, I’ve seen those same people talking on cellphones, buying their 10 year old children cellphones, having cable TV, driving a new or pretty new vehicle, dressing in nice clothes, eating out time and again not only in fast food restaurants but more expensive chain restaurants and going home to a nice house. I’ve seen them smoke, drink and have trouble walking from their paid parking to their $40 seats at the ballgame because of their obesity. While they’re thin in the pocketbook when it comes to gas and healthcare, they’re gorging themselves with the excesses of consumerism and greed. I would imagine cutting back on all of those things would save many households at least a few hundred dollars a month, maybe even $1,000 a month. Not that I’d do it or would think anyone in the U.S. would, but I wonder how much we would save in one month if we ate just rice and beans with a litle bit of chicken, drank water and didn’t have a cellphone, an expensive car, cable tv or go to the ballgame. Hmmm. I’m sure I’ll get hammered that we should have those “essentials”. After all, “WE ARE AMERICANS!”
Now I know that what I’ve just written doesn’t hold true for some people, some people are really cutting back everywhere they can and struggling just to breath. But I do believe it holds true for a majority of people. Why else would we find ourselves where we are? If we only bought what we could pay for with cash, would we be where we are individually or collectively? Sure, big businesses are greedy and have created ways for people to have quick and easy access to cash. They should be held accountable.
And so should individuals. It is not Bush’s fault or any other politician’s fault that we can’t afford gas or healthcare. Yes, let’s vote for the best candidate, but we have to take responsibility for ourselves and our own financial decisions. If we don’t have cash, forget putting it on that easily obtained credit card. If we don’t have cash, don’t go out to eat. If we don’t have cash, don’t text on a cellphone. If we don’t have cash, get rid of cable. It’s time that we own up to our desires and make rational decisions based on what’s in the pocketbook and not fulfilling our want to get, get and get whatever we want, whenever we want. We can change all the laws that govern the economy, business and taxes, but unless we change our underlying attitude of “I deserve it”, we’ll continue to walk the same road, sometimes uphill and sometimes downhill, but always buying and getting.