Sunday, February 22, 2009

Greed is Ugly

I will never admit to being the most informed person in the room. But I do enjoy making decisions based on information. Beyond luck, that's the elegance of a quality poker player - one who can utilize the information presented and make informed decisions.

This morning, my father echoed the sentiments of many about the component of Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan that addressed mortgage bailouts. He sounded like the many folks who played by the rules and are understandably salty by having to rescue those who did not.

I get it. But, I must admit that I do not agree.

Fortunately, I have made every single one of my mortgage payments on time - almost six years of them. I'm always on time with all of my bills and I live within my means. My obligations are few, as I have no dependents but myself.

There's a stat making the rounds that 93% of mortgage holders pay on time every month. But according to The Boston Globe, 9 MILLION people are either facing foreclosure or cannot pay their mortgages. That's a whole lot of people.

There's also 12 MILLION people unemployed - probably more, as unemployment factors out those who have simply given up and aren't looking for work anymore.

While those stats aren't necessarily additive, it's a ton of people. We live in a society with many moving parts. What some folks don't realize is that they don't exist in a bubble. What affects their neighbor affects them too. What's better - foreclosing many homes around you and living in a ghost town, or helping out those in need to keep the community alive?

It's not optimal - but it's the lesser of two evils.

I gave an example to my father today about school taxes. We are in the same situation. We don't presently have children who benefit from the local public school system, yet we all pay our taxes, a portion of which funds the schools.

Would I prefer not to pay for public education of strangers? Sure.

But I understand why I have to. It's part of living where I do. I choose to live in a society that allows for its children to be educated. It's a no-brainer. We can't have throngs of kids running around Lord of the Flies style, uneducated and uncivil.

Unfortunately the "me" mindset in which we exist has to stop. The greedy need to realize that their avarice affects others. Perhaps not right then and there, but it contributes to a longer-term failure. And now, the greedy are those who are not satisfied with their economic stimuli because others are receiving more.

Those who are in stronger financial positions need to shut up and deal with this. There's a ton of people struggling - whether through bad choices of their own, predatory lending, job loss, whatever. Don't point fingers. Move on. Be a better person, figure out how to help, and be thankful that you don't have to be bailed out.

Getting people into the mindset of government bailouts as fallbacks is certainly not good practice. But I would take being passed over for bailouts because I'm solvent ANY DAY over needing assistance. I'm not asking "where's my bailout," but rather appreciative that at this point, I don't need one.

Greed is ugly. It got us into this mess in the first place, and it continues to linger.


meg said...

excellent post!

Meaghan said...


Anonymous said...

I think you're arrogant to call this greed. Assuming your father is within ten years of retirement, he has every right to complain about handing out money(his/ours) to those who helped tank his 401k. I understand that the country needs it(bailout), but it definitely ain't right.

Jason said...

It's not my father's greed - it's the greed of many who controlled the lending and fueled markets with frenzy. It was unabashed greed. I'm sorry you disagree.