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Friday, May 16, 2008

Who Does the Housing Bail Out Really Help?

Who Does the Housing Bail Out Really Help?

I believe it was Joseph Stalin who said, "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." It’s beginning to be that way when it comes to government spending. If I lose a thousand dollars it’s a lot of money, but the government spending another billion dollars is just an incomprehensible statistic. I’m no cynic, but it seems to me that the government is totally out of control. Just what is it that happens to normal men and women who come to Washington, DC as Senators and Representatives? It appears that they become intoxicated on the power that comes to them through government spending.

All of which brings me to ask the question: Who does the housing bail out really help? Some would say that the answer is obvious—the ones who received the money. But is that really true? 

Forget about the fairness of those who acted responsibly having to pay for those who acted irresponsibly. That’s not even that important in the scope of things. I think far more damage is done to those who are bailed out by the government.
Let me ask you this question: Do you help your children when you bail them out of problems that happen because they made bad decisions? When you do, does it really help them? Or, if you let them suffer the consequences of their mistake, does it have a positive effect on them?

Sometimes pain is good for us. We don’t like it. We’re embarrassed by it. It’s a struggle to overcome. But generally we’re better off as a result of it. I once had a friend who was a POW for nearly six years tell me aside from the lost time, his experience as a POW was a worthwhile learning experience. No, he wouldn’t do it over again (who would choose to be a POW or have any of the problems we face as humans—financial, health, relationship), but after the fact we are often willing to admit that they were good for us.

So back to my question: Who was really helped by the housing bail out? I don’t think we helped those who were bailed out at all. Will they now become more responsible because they were bailed out? Or will they forever assume that someone will bail them out when they encounter problems and difficulties as a result of bad decisions? I’d bet on the latter, not the former. 

It’s not that I don’t care about these folks. I do. Believe me, I’ve made terrible decisions that have cost me dearly, but I must admit that they were also valuable learning experiences. Maybe I’m just someone who learns by making mistakes, and maybe you can’t relate. My experience is that problems are rarely as bad as we assume them to be. We may be embarrassed. We may be humiliated. We may have to crawl on our knees. We may have to overcome hardships, but we will, in the end, be better for it. 

I don’t like it more than anyone else when I have to suffer for my stupid mistakes, but if someone were to bail me out, would I learn anything?

The only folks I can see the bail out helping is the politicians who seek to manipulate and control their fellow citizens to their political advantage. The more dependent the average Joe and Jill become upon government, the less freedom they will have and the more power the politicians will have.

Are we raising an entire generation of Americans who think that government should care for them from cradle to grave and protect them from every stupid decision they make? Look around the globe. There already are many governments like that. We call them dictatorships. They are located in Cuba and China, Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran.

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