[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Gloomy Economy? And Who's To Blame?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gloomy Economy? And Who's To Blame?

All this talk about a possible recession looming is certainly enough to make anyone feel pessimistic. We can argue whether we're indeed headed to a recession, and I'm a bit skeptical myself, but that's a topic that's way over my head and would take forever to digest all the data.

There's no doubt that the slumping housing market, higher insurance costs, wages that aren't catching up with inflation, property taxes and gas prices are more than enough to make one worry about their financial future. And we can pin the blame on all the usual targets: government over-spending, political corruption, high medical costs, predatory lenders pushing subprime loans, the Iraq War, hard-line Cuban exiles...you get the picture.

However, there's one element missing above, a big one.

Us. All of Us.

I think we've become greedy as a society. Too many of us buy the biggest house, the latest I-Phone, the nicest car, take that nice vacation, send our kids to the best schools, etc., without considering what our financial outlook will be 5 or 10 years down the road. I'm all for personal freedom, and if one wants to buy a house worth 5 times more than their salary with a disgusting ARM, then go for it. However, don't blame the economy when you put your house up for foreclosure in 2 years flat because you can't pay the rapidly rising mortgage. After all, no one put a gun to your head to buy that house, right?

And, please, don't come crying to the government (read: taxpayers) to bail you out.

Even the "poor" in this country have at least 2 cellphones, a PC with high-speed internet, and the latest X-Box, so what's going on?

As we all know, personal accountability is something of the past, something our grandparents and parents practiced. We ought to have the right to spend our money as we please with little government interference. But with that we gain the right to be responsible and shoulder the blame when bad planning results in a shortfall.

Obviously, there are some things we have little control over. I would love, however, to hear and see people start to take back control of their lives, their wallets, and "Cowboy Up", to use an outdated cliche. This may sound bad, but in some ways a recession is exactly what our society needs to wake us up and see what's really important. I'm not saying that I want the recession to come, but perhaps a little dose of reality will snap us out of this funk we're in.

Ana Veciana-Suarez touches on some of these points here.


Blogger Rick said...

And there needs to be a few more people killed on I-95 so that folks will wake up and be more careful drivers.

Wow, Robert. Just. Wow.


12:51 PM, January 12, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...


Guessing you didn't agree with my "recession will wake people up" line. Glad my hyperbole got your attention!

My point is the our priorities are all screwed up and the reality that a recession would provide, as undesirable as it would be, would straighten them out pronto.

What that has to do with dead motorists on I-95, I have no idea. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

7:05 PM, January 12, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

Okay, Robert. Let me try an analogy that might be a little more familiar to you.

If I thought that coastal development had gotten out of hand...too many buildings, too many people... how compassionate, how merciful, how humanistic, would it be for me to say, "You know, I really don't want a Cat 5 hurricane to come in and wipe out the beach and kill and displace thousands of people, but, you know what, if it did happen, maybe a little dose of reality would wake us all up as to the dangers of coastal development."

Of course, I would say this from my house in west Dade or Broward where I, the person who believes that these coastal dwellers need a wake up call, would be much less impacted by this Cat 5 storm.

I hope this enlightens you, Robert, but in my experience, a simple blog comment has very little impact on who a person is at their core.


11:38 AM, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

Oh please, Rick. Your "humanistic" bleeding-heart Cat 5 hurricane example isn't even close to what I was even trying to say. Be honest with us, if that's at all possible.

Look, you're smart enough to read and comprehend my post and subsequent comment, so I won't explain it to you again. If not, then fine...I won't sleep any worse because of it.

Thanks for the compliment at the end of your last comment, too.
After all, it does come from someone who's willingly stirred the pot on more than one occasion, just for the hell of it, regardless of who's feelings it affected.

1:14 PM, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

Last sentence should be "whose"

1:15 PM, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

Of course you're not talking about people dying here, Robert, but you are talking about people losing their jobs, their homes or their livelihoods because of it.

I'm guilty of having a "bleeding heart" if that means feeling sorry for them no matter how many cell phones, X-boxes, of DSL connections they may have in their homes. I simply have a difficult time getting to the point where I see an upside to a recession. Especially in the context you do.

BTW, don't be afraid to attach the "liberal" to the "bleeding heart" moniker you tag me with, Robert. Although, personally, I prefer "progressive."

And I got to give you credit for not resorting to using descriptors like "pinko," "communist," "bigot," or, as your co-writers at the other place favor, "bitch." You wanna talk about stirring the pot?



3:09 PM, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

OK Rick, you're right. I'm just a mean-spirited egotistical a-hole who just wishes people were more responsible about the way they govern their lives and finances so that they didn't have to lose their jobs and die and all that other nasty stuff. Not to mention the rest of us having us to cover for others' bad decisions, but that's another story.

On the other hand, you do realize that you wouldn't have had anything or anyone to blog about if people were more responsible. The irony.

9:09 PM, January 13, 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

I'm just a mean-spirited egotistical a-hole who just wishes people were more responsible about the way they govern their lives and finances so that they didn't have to lose their jobs and die and all that other nasty stuff.

Of course you're not, Robert. But I do think that the reasoning that a recession is a good thing because it will wake people up is wrong, from a moralistic standpoint, particularly when you're not going to be hard hit, as well as a logical and historical point of view. I mean, how many recessions have we had in this country's history and people still continue to overextend themselves.

I do that type of thinking is consistent with conservative ideology, to a certain degree, but it still surprised me as to how you expressed it.

And for once, just once, I wish people could debate me and not the old blog I wrote for. It's history. Really. Just let it go.


5:52 PM, January 15, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...


Sure, we'd all be affected by a recession. I have a family, and I know we would have to make some serious adjustments in our spending and way of life. In fact, we've already had to, at least to some extent.

Again, I'm not hoping for a recession, only making the statement (admittedly quite forcefully) that it might have a sort of silver lining, if you will. Still, that's not the same as wishing harm on anyone, which I'm not.

And for once, just once, I wish people could debate me and not the old blog I wrote for. It's history. Really. Just let it go.

Exactly WHAT blog did you used to write for? ;)

7:57 PM, January 15, 2008  

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